Can you get tetanus from a dog bite?

 

A:

Yes, you can get tetanus from a dog bite, or even a dog scratch. That being said, children should be immunized for tetanus to attend school. Adults are supposed to get the booster shot every 10 years, but not all are great about keeping up with it. If you are bitten by a dog, you're going to need to get the tetanus booster within 72 hours of the attack. Tetanus is a potentially deadly bacterial infection, so it is definitely not something to be taken lightly. 

How can a dog give you tetanus? The bacteria is often found in soil where dogs dig and play. The tetanus can end up in the dog's saliva or claws and then be transmitted to you if they bite or scratch. 

Without treating tetanus, the bacteria can poison the nervous system and cause pneumonia, brain damage, respiratory arrest, heart failure, and even death. Symptoms include a series of jaw spasms or a locked jaw; different muscles spasms throughout the body are also possible. You may have trouble with swallowing, drooling, sweating, and fever. If the tetanus is really far along, you may have trouble breathing. 

If you were bitten by a dog, don't just assume that the dog did not pass tetanus on to you. Visit your doctor, find out when your last tetanus booster was, and if you are overdue, get that booster as soon as possible. 

Earl Straight is a dog bite attorney in Austin, and he represents victims of dog attacks in the state of Texas. If you were bitten by a dog, contact Earl Straight for a free consultation at 512-454-1331.