A dog bite can have serious complications. Infections are a risk, as are disfiguring wounds and nerve damage. One potential problem that isn’t discussed often but that can happen is the development of meningitis. Meningitis is the inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord.
Meningitis is serious, because it may go on to cause headaches, confusion, fever and other potentially life-threatening symptoms.
Why is meningitis a risk?
Dogs naturally have bacteria in their mouths that may go on to cause human septicemia and C. canimorsus meningitis. While there have only ever been 18 reported cases of C. canimorsus meningitis from a dog bite, other kinds of meningitis are also possible any time you develop an infection from a bite.
What are the signs of meningitis to watch out for?
The first thing to understand is that this form of meningitis is more common in people who are immunocompromised. That doesn’t mean that others can’t develop the illness, but it is less common in those with normal immune function.
If you start to develop meningitis, some of the symptoms may include:
- Decreased appetite
- Confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Skin rashes
- Sudden fever
- Severe headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
Some people have vaccinations against bacterial meningitis. This vaccine may not protect against all forms of meningitis, so just having the vaccine doesn’t mean that you don’t have this illness developing if you have the signs and symptoms.
What are the complications of meningitis?
Complications related to meningitis include:
- Learning disabilities
- Memory loss
- Hearing loss
- Brain damage
- A buildup of fluid between the skull and brain
It is important to seek out medical help as soon as possible if you have been bitten by a dog. Getting the right antibiotic treatments and having the wound cleaned out will help minimize the risk of meningitis and other infections.
If you have been bitten by a dog and begin to develop signs of meningitis or other illnesses, go to the emergency room. The owner of the dog that bit you should be held liable for any medical care that you need following the attack.