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What are some complications of animal bites?

When you're bitten by an animal, there's more to worry about than who's to blame. On top of having to find someone to be held liable, you're going to have to worry about your health.

Immediately following an animal attack, you may be bruised, cut, and bleeding. Most bites are caused by dogs in the United States, so that means you can have lacerations, broken bones, crushing injuries and other issues due to the deep penetration of fang teeth and the side-to-side movement of a dog's attack.

While the most commonly feared side effect of the bite is rabies, that's not something that typically occurs. Many dogs, particularly pets, do have vaccinations against rabies and other concerning illnesses. However, infections can still occur and can be potentially life threatening. Skin infections can cause scarring and damage the body's tissues to the point of being unable to heal. Some bites can be severe and lead to disability.

If you're bitten on the hand, you should be aware that this is one area that has a risk for serious complications. Ligaments, joints, tendons and nerves in the hand can all be affected, damaged, or destroyed. There is little protection from the skin on the hands, and that means the bones and joints are easy to access and damage.

Following a bite injury, you need to seek medical care. The person who owns the animal is usually held responsible for the injuries you've suffered, so you can make a claim when you're healthy enough to do so. At that point, you can request the compensation you need to make up for lost work, medical bills, and other needs.

Source: UpToDate, "Patient information: Animal bites (Beyond the Basics)," Larry M Baddour, MD, FIDSA Erin E Endom, MD, accessed Dec. 09, 2015

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