Posted on : January 25, 2022 by Clinic One Team on Rabies FAQ
To understand a dog bite, first, it is important to know the different levels of dog bites and how to treat them. Dog bites range from minor to severe, where severe dog bites have the potential to lead to death.
The concept of levels of dog bite was first developed by Dr. Ian Dunbar. The classification given by Dr. Ian Dunbar looks into the scale of severity of the injury and classifies them accordingly.
The scale of different levels of dog bites
The different levels of dog bites and the severity of injuries given by Dr. Ian Dunbar are as follows:
- Level One: At this level, there is no skin-to-teeth contact, and can be zestful obnoxious behavior or aggression.
- Level Two: In this level, skin and teeth contact is made, but there are no punctures, and there may be a small tear.
- Level Three: In this level of dog bite, there are one to four punctures made from one bite on the victim, and there is a chance of small tears being made from the victim pulling his or her body part away from the biting dog or the biting dog pulling away.
- Level Four: In this level, one to four deep punctures are made from a single bite, and the victim has tears and bruises, which are caused by the dog holding on to the victim or shaking while biting.
- Level Five: In level five of a dog bite, the dog bites its victim multiple times in which it might bite the victim more than two times in a single attack with bites of level four, in which the bite makes one to four deep punctures and there are bruises and tears caused because of the bite.
- Level Six: Level six is the most severe level of a dog bite. In this level, the victim dies because of the dog bite.
What to do in case of a dog bite?
To reduce the risk of infection from the injury caused by the dog bite, there are a few steps that the victim needs to take as soon as possible.
Professional medical treatment on the same day is highly recommended by health professionals because there might be punctures made by the teeth of the dog and open wounds that are jagged after a dog bite.
Emergency medicine physician Stephen Sayles III, MD says that if the wound caused by a dog bite becomes infected, then it is more likely to become a severe medical case.
An individual might need to be hospitalized and may require intravenous antibiotics, it is highly recommended to see a primary healthcare provider at least, in case of a dog bite.
It is crucial that a victim of a dog bite sees a health professional within eight hours of the attack, regardless of the severity of the wound.
Leaving the wound unattended increases the risk of infection. If the victim is diabetic or immunocompromised the risk of infection is higher.
Infection risk from a dog bite
The prime motive for taking care of a wound from a dog bite is said to be the attempt to prevent infection that can be caused because of the bite.
As a rough estimation, 50% of dog bite introduces bacteria which include capnocytophaga, streptococcus, and Pasteurella.
Dogs who are unvaccinated or undomesticated have the potential of carrying rabies and transferring it through a bite, hence a health professional will inquire about the dog that has bitten an individual.
Symptoms of a dog bite infection can include:
- swelling and redness around the wound
- pain that lasts longer than 24 hours
- drainage from the wound
- difficulty moving the affected part of the body
- a warm feeling around the wound
Signs that the infection may have spread to other parts of the body include:
- night sweats
Rabies is a fatal virus that transmits from one infected being to another through saliva.
This virus generally transmits through bites. Once an individual is exposed to the virus and begins to show symptoms and signs of the virus, the disease most of the time always leads to the death of the infected.
Vaccination for rabies is always recommended for protection from the virus once an individual is at risk.
Steps to take for treating a dog bite wound
1. Wash the wound: The first step to take to treat a wound caused by a dog bite is to wash the wound with mild soap and run warm water over the wound for five to ten minutes.
2. Slow the bleeding: Slow the bleeding from the wound using a clean cloth on the wound.
3. Apply antibiotics: To reduce the chances of infection, the application of over-the-counter antibiotic cream or antiseptic like Dettol is recommended.
4. Cover the wound: To prevent the open wound from being exposed to other germs and bacteria covering the wound with a medical bandage is recommended.
5. Consult a health professional: An individual is highly recommended to consult a health professional as soon as possible, so the wound can be clinically examined and necessary medical steps can be taken.
6. Aftercare: Changing the bandage regularly to avoid infection after the wound has been examined by a health professional and following the aftercare instructions given by the health professional is recommended.
7. Keeping track of the wound: An individual is recommended to keep an eye out for signs of infection.
What to expect from a doctor’s office?
When an individual becomes a victim of a dog bite, a medical professional would want to know more about the dog, the attack and the levels of dog bites to treat the victim.
Cleaning of the wound will be done again by the medical professional, they will apply antibiotics ointment on the wound such as augmentin, and will prescribe antibiotics if there is a concern of infection.
The medical professional would also want to know details about the last time the victim got a tetanus immunization and rabies vaccination shot and accordingly will recommend taking all the vaccine doses or the boosters.
The medical professional may also recommend stitches, depending on the wound.
Though generally, this is not the case. Dog bite wounds are largely not stitched, they are left open to heal naturally, but if the bite is on the victim’s face when they are stitched or when the wound has the potential of leaving severe scars or is deep they are stitched.
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