If a dog bites you and does not cause considerable damage, you may try to take matters into your own hands by cleaning and caring for the wound at home. While you are wise to immediately clean the wound before doing anything else, you should not forego medical attention — even if the wound does seem minor.
Approximately 50% of dog bites introduce bacteria into the bloodstream. One such bacteria is capnocytophaga. Capnocytophaga can cause a range of symptoms and, if left untreated, result in death. To prevent worst-case outcomes, the CDC encourages you to learn the signs and symptoms of capnocytophaga so that you can seek medical intervention as soon as they develop.
Signs and symptoms of capnocytophaga
If you do contract capnocytophaga, you may develop symptoms within three to five days. However, some people develop symptoms as soon as within one day, while others may not show any signs for 14 days. The severity of your symptoms will depend on several factors, including how much bacteria entered your bloodstream and your overall health. However, common symptoms of this particular infection include the following:
- Swelling, redness, drainage and pain at the sight of the wound
- Development of blisters around the wound within a few hours of the bite
- Diarrhea and/or stomach pain
- Muscle or joint pain
- Headache and/or confusion
The most common means of transmission of capnocytophaga is through a cat or a dog bite. However, some people may become infected after coming into contact with an infected animal’s saliva.
Complications of capnocytophaga
Capnocytophaga can become very serious very quickly. Without immediate and proper intervention, the infection can cause heart attack, gangrene and kidney failure. In severe cases, an infected person may have to have his or her limbs, fingers or toes amputated. Approximately three in 10 people who develop this type of infection die. In some cases, the infection quickly develops into sepsis and causes death within 24 to 72 hours of the start of symptoms.
A dog bite is not a type of injury to take lightly. If you are a dog bite victim, enlist appropriate professional help to ensure your recovery is as smooth as possible.