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Watch for signs of infection after a dog bite

When a dog attacked you, you joined a club of bite victims that grows by about 4.7 million every single year. While many dog bites are minor, others lead to serious complications. Infection is a common one. 

Infection is simply the growth of germs inside the body. For victims of dog bites, these germs may be bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeasts or many other types of microorganisms that live inside the animal’s mouth. 

Common symptoms

After suffering a dog bite, you should expect to feel soreness around the wound. If this soreness worsens, though, you may have a potentially serious infection. 

The following symptoms are also common: 

  • Swelling 
  • Fluid oozing from the bite wound 
  • Red streaks or bands emanating from the bite wound 
  • Loss of feeling or motion 
  • Fever, chills, night sweats 
  • Fatigue, nausea or disorientation 

Infection symptoms usually progress over time. That is, if you have an infection, your symptoms may start mildly only to worsen in the hours, days or even weeks after the attack. Consequently, if your bite does not appear to be healing, it is important to seek a thorough medical examination as soon as possible. 

A medical emergency

While some infections are minor, many others are medical emergencies. After all, an untreated infection may lead to grave complications, including: 

  • Bacteremia, where you have high concentrations of bacteria in your bloodstream 
  • Sepsis, where your body’s infection response interferes with organ functionality 
  • Septic shock, where organs stop working 

With healthy adults, minor infections often resolve on their own. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics or other medications to help you combat an infection. Still, if you have a severe infection or a compromised immune system, recovering completing may be an uphill battle.