Tetanus can cause serious complications after a dog bite

Of the concerns you should have if you're bitten by a dog, one of the most serious is the risk of tetanus. Tetanus is a serious condition that could lead to death without treatment.

Tetanus is caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. This bacteria is found in dust, saliva, manure and soil. Normally, it enters the body through cuts or open wounds. When the bacteria reproduce, a toxin spreads. Once the infection takes hold, it causes the muscles to tighten around the body. It may lead to lockjaw, which makes it impossible to swallow or open your mouth. As a result, tetanus is an emergency.

Don't people get vaccines for tetanus?

Many people do get vaccinated for tetanus, at least at a young age with childhood immunizations. For those who cannot receive immunizations or who were not given them, the risk of developing tetanus from an injury is higher. Most people should receive tetanus boosters every 10 years, though they may be given more often if you suffer from a bad injury, like a dog bite or severe burn.

How do dogs spread tetanus?

Dogs may have tetanus bacteria in their mouths as a result of licking their paws and picking up bacteria from the ground, manure or other places. Tetanus is uncommon, with only around 30 reported cases yearly, but it is worth seeking medical advice if you're bitten by a dog and have a puncture or open wound.

Early treatment for bites can prevent serious complications. If you're bitten, your attorney can speak with you more about recouping your expenses.

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