Can a Dog Bite Make Me Feel like I Have Flu?

dog bite flu

Byline: Every week Cork GP Dr Pixie McKenna answers your questions ASK THE DOCTOR

The neighbour’s dog bit me the other day. It didn’t seem so bad at the time but now I don’t feel well. It’s almost like I have the flu. What should I do?
Eoghan, Cork

I ASSUME you cleaned out the wound? If the cut or dressing is dirty the wound needs to be professionally cleaned and a new bandage reapplied.
The wound will look red and swollen if it is infected. It may be hot and painful and leak gunk, such as pus or liquid. It may also smell a bit. Your glands might be up, so feel if there is any swelling in your neck, armpits or groins as this is a sign of infection.

You may also have a fever. This might manifest in sweating at night or just feeling queasy. Any of these symptoms would suggest you have an infection.In this instance, antibiotics are prescribed. We often give Co-amoxiclav, which is commonly known as Augmentin. Research indicates that taking antibiotics after a dog or cat bite will reduce the chance of infection by half. Ideally, you want to get antibiotics within six hours of being bitten.

If the bite was contaminated with soil check your tetanus status with your GP. Normally five shots in a lifetime are enough to protect us and most adults will have had this amount.
Nonetheless, your doctor should have a record of your last booster, and if there is any doubt and you are considered at risk of tetanus, have another injection.

Thankfully rabies is not a risk if the bite came from an Irish domestic dog. This disease has been eradicated here. It is passed through a bite, scratch or even a lick from an infected animal and is incredibly common in other parts of the world, such as India. Regrettably, there is no cure.

If you feel like you have flu, you probably do have an infected bite. See your GP to get antibiotics and get the practice nurse to make sure the wound is cleaned and dressed correctly. A pharmacist can also advise on dressings.


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