When dogs attack, they often leave bite victims with catastrophic and life-altering injuries. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, roughly 20% of bite victims require emergency medical treatment.
Depending on the severity of your bite, you may require surgery, rehabilitation and ongoing treatment. If you develop an infection, though, your life may be in immediate danger. That is, a bite-related infection may expose you to sepsis or septic shock.
What causes infection?
Dogs have millions of germs in their saliva and under their claws. You also have plenty of bacteria on your skin. If a dog’s teeth or nails break through your skin, germs may work their way into your tissues or even your bloodstream. While your immune system may be able to fight back, an infection can quickly overwhelm your body’s defenses.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis happens when your body overreacts to a perceived threat. When attacking an infection, your overworked immune system may go after your vital organs. If your organs shut down, you may go into septic shock. Both sepsis and septic shock are medical emergencies, as they may cause serious complications or even death.
What are the signs of infection?
To ensure you do not develop sepsis or septic shock, you should closely monitor yourself for signs of infection. These may include one or more of the following:
- Redness around the bite wound
- Fever, sweats or chills
- Nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite
- Sore throat
- Headaches or body aches
- Confusion, disorientation or dizziness
Ultimately, if you observe any of the warning signs of infection, going to the emergency room for a full medical evaluation may save your life.