Many people know you should check your tetanus immunization if you step on a rusty nail or become injured outdoors. However, fewer people know that the potentially deadly bacterial infection also can be transmitted through an animal bite or during a dog attack.
If you have been injured by a dog—either through or a bite or a claw scratch which breaks the skin—you should seek professional medical treatment and make certain your tetanus shot is up-to-date.
What is tetanus?
Tetanus is a serious infection caused by spores of the bacteria C. tetani, which can live dormant in the soil for decades before taking up residence in a larger organism. If contaminated soil enters the blood stream through a wound, the bacteria can spread and poison the nervous system. Without treatment, the bacteria can cause pneumonia, brain damage, respiratory arrest, heart failure, and death.
What are the symptoms of tetanus?
The most common and telling symptom of tetanus is a series of jaw spasms or a locked jaw. Muscle spasms in the face, neck, back, and torso also are common, as is drooling, fever, difficulty swallowing, sweating, and loss of continence. A more advanced symptom of tetanus is difficulty breathing.
How is tetanus treated?
Most infants are immunized against tetanus through DTaP shots, which protect against tetanus pertussis, and diphtheria. However, these shots are only good for ten years, so most children receive a second tetanus vaccination at age ten or eleven. Every ten years after that, doctors recommend adults receive a tetanus booster. If you are bitten by a dog, be certain to ask your doctor when your last tetanus booster was and whether you require a shot.
If tetanus has been diagnosed, it is treated with antibiotics, tetanus immune globulin, muscle relaxants, and sedatives. Assisted breathing support, such as a breathing machine, may be required for serious cases. About one in four people die after being diagnosed with tetanus.
California Dog Bite Attorney
Tetanus is yet another example of how a simple dog bite can have extremely serious health consequences. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a dog attack, it is important to identify who is responsible for damages. Call our Orange County dog bite lawyers today to learn more about your case: (949) 851-0222.