A bite from a dog can put a person at risk for a number of serious diseases, including tetanus and rabies. People in Connecticut may not associate an infection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with a canine attack. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, dogs can be asymptomatic carriers of MRSA, and a bite can cause a person to become infected with one of these dangerous strains of bacteria. Not only that, but a bite can also be an indirect cause of MRSA infection if the bacteria is already present on a person’s skin.
The reason MRSA is so dangerous is that the antibiotics ordinarily used to treat similar infections do not work against it. Previous exposure to antibiotics has made the bacteria resistant to them. According to the Mayo Clinic, the difficulty involved in treating MRSA infection can allow the bacteria to spread throughout the body. When this happens, it can cause potentially life-threatening complications in the heart, lungs, bones, joints and bloodstream.
The first symptoms of MRSA infection from a dog bite may appear in the vicinity of the puncture wound. There may be drainage of pus or other fluid from the site, and the area may feel warm to the touch. MRSA infection may also result in systemic symptoms, such as a fever.
A physician should evaluate any possible MRSA infection. He or she will collect a specimen, either in the form of nasal secretions or a tissue sample, to send to a lab for testing. If the specimen is positive for MRSA, the lab technicians will perform additional tests to see if there are any other antibiotics to which the bacterial strain is sensitive. However, doctors do not always prescribe antibiotics for MRSA, in part because of the possibility that the bacteria may develop resistance to more medications.