Dog attacks are often scary events. Fortunately, most of the nearly 4.7 million dog bites every year are minor. If you develop an infection at or near the bite site, though, your seemingly minor dog bite may turn into a life-threatening medical emergency. 

It can be difficult to gauge the severity of an animal bite. Accordingly, if a dog attacks you, you should seek emergency medical treatment. Along with following your doctor’s orders, you must watch for signs of infection. Capnocytophaga is a common bite-related infectious agent. 

The Capnocytophaga germ 

Dog mouths are germy places that often house thousands of potentially harmless bacteria. A common one, Capnocytophaga, does not usually affect the health of the animal. Nevertheless, it may be deadly for humans. If a dog bite breaks your skin, the Capnocytophaga germ may enter your bloodstream, causing a variety of complications. Roughly 30% of patients with Capnocytophaga infections die. 

Infection risk factors 

A person with a healthy immune system may have little trouble fighting off Capnocytophaga. Other individuals, however, may develop a serious infection after contact with the germ. These include the following: 

  • Individuals who are over the age of 40 
  • Individuals who do not have a spleen 
  • Individuals who regularly consume excessive amounts of alcohol 
  • Individuals who have HIV, cancer, diabetes or other conditions that compromise the immune system 

Infection warning signs 

When recovering from any animal bite, watch for general signs of infection. If you have a Capnocytophaga infection, you may experience one or more of these symptoms: 

  • Blisters that appear soon after the bite occurs 
  • Redness or swelling around the wound site 
  • Discharge from the wound site 
  • Muscle and joint pain or weakness 
  • Fever 
  • Headache, nausea or disorientation 
  • Diarrhea, vomiting or stomach discomfort 

While it may be tempting to think you are over the worst of a dog bite after the attack concludes, a Capnocytophaga infection may leave you with life-threatening complications. By carefully monitoring your recovery process, you can seek medical treatment if an infection develops.