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Dog bites may lead to life-threatening infections

Not all dog bites are gravely serious in nature, but in some cases, what starts as a dog bite has the potential to progress into something far more dangerous. In certain instances, a dog bite may lead to a highly serious, and even potentially life-threatening, type of infection known as Capnocytophaga. While not all cases of Capnocytophaga prove life-threatening, about three out of every 10 people who develop serious infections ultimately die because of their conditions.

Just what are some potential signs of a Capnocytophaga infection, and is there anything you can do to protect yourself in the aftermath of a dog bite?

Capnocytophaga signs and symptoms

In many cases, symptoms associated with Capnocytophaga present themselves within about three to five days after you suffer a dog bite. In some cases, however, affected individuals may not see any signs until as many as 14 days later.

Common symptoms associated with Capnocytophaga include blisters around the place where the dog bit you, or redness, swelling, pain or pus coming from the part of the body where the bite occurred. You may have a fever or muscle or joint pain when you experience a Capnocytophaga infection. You may also experience a severe headache or confusion as a result of it. In especially serious cases, this type of infection can lead to potentially life-threatening complications, including gangrene, kidney failure or a heart attack. Some people who suffer from it may need to have afflicted extremities amputated.

Reducing your risk

Anytime a dog bites you, take care to wash the area thoroughly and promptly. It is wise to also call your doctor to have him or her check out your bite, even if you are not yet feeling sick. Otherwise, you run the risk of serious dog-bite-related health complications, including Capnocytophaga and even rabies.

While it is important to have your doctor promptly check out any injuries you suffer when a dog bites you, it is equally important that you do the same anytime a dog bites your child. Children may not be able to vocalize how they feel after a dog bite, so visiting a doctor may be your best line of defense against infection.

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