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Dog bites and illnesses: More than just rabies

Dog bites are dangerous for more reasons than just the bleeding, tearing and mutilation they can cause. One of the more serious aftereffects of a bite is actually infection. There are many infections these bites can cause, and even a minor puncture wound can be a source of agony for someone who has been bitten. After a bite, treatment at a hospital is important, so you can avoid some of these issues. With proper treatment, you can usually treat these issues before they get out of hand and become dangerous to your body.

Rabies is the most common concern, but the truth is that there are many more common infections to look out for. Campylobacteriosis, for instance, can spread through the stool of animals, so if a dog bites you after being infected, you could be sick, too. Usually, you'll show signs of the infection with cramping, abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea; it can lead to a life-threatening infection if you have a weak immune system or are an older person. Infants are also at higher risk of life-threatening illness.

Another infection to look out for is Brucellosis. This disease makes it difficult for animals to reproduce, and it's usually only able to be contracted if you have raw milk that has been unpasteurized or if you're handling the recently removed or aborted tissues of infected animals. Why would someone be bitten and exposed to this kind of illness? Consider times when you may be at a friend's house or other location where a dog could be having puppies; in pain or fear, the dog could strike out, biting you and potentially leading to contact with infected tissues.

Another dangerous infection is pasteurellosis. This bacterial disease can be delivered through a bite or scratch. Pasteurella is a normal bacterium that lives in a dog's mouth, but it can overgrow and cause infection in wounds. Around 50 percent of those with bites or scratches will have this bacteria present.

These are just some of the possible infections you could be exposed to with a bite and why dog owners need to be held accountable for dangerous pets who hurt others.

Source: Healthy Pets Healthy People: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Dogs," accessed Jan. 20, 2016

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