Episode 99 S3-18
Treating Dog Bites
The Walls of Freedom Ch 18
Dr. Ryan Chamberlin
As a first responder dog bites don't require a lot of treatment. Wash the area thoroughly and soak with a decontaminate like betadine. Then wrap the wound in a sterile bandage for 24 hours. Watch to see if the skin turns red over time. This could indicate the onset of infection or cellulitis. If you do not see signs of infection you don't want to start antibiotics immediately. Antibiotics will kill the good bacteria on the skin that are beneficial to treating the wound. You can kill the bad bacteria with a local antiseptic.
As time presses on you may think that rabies would be a major concern. However, actual incidents of rabies is very low in today's time. Tetanus, also known lockjaw, is an as infection characterized by muscle spasms (Wikipedia), is much more of an issue. Tetanus is a disease that lives in the soil. Dogs can pick it up and spread it with their teeth. Most Americans have been vaccinated against this disease and the booster lasts for 10 years and maybe as long as 15yrs.
After twenty four hours with a sterile dressing, the dressing can be replaced with a non-sterile application. Watch out for redness and if you see it appearing, outline it with a pen. That way you can tell if the redness is expanding, indicating that an infection is setting in. Penicillin is available in a fish antibiotic and can be bought and stored for emergency situations like this infection. Augmention is best. It is an augmented penicillin. Also available and applicable to this injury is any sulfa drug like Bactrim. This drug is more effective because it was available in a generic form and not promoted as heavily in the medical industry. Other antibiotics lost their effectiveness due to this over-promotion but not Bactim. You can also use this drug for skin infections, urinary tract infections, and bronchitis. Also anything from the "cycline" family like doxycycline, tetracycline, minocycline can be used to treat this infection. The cycline family is a broad spectrum antibiotic and can be used to treat everything, even lymes disease. However, a side effect of this drug is that the patient may become photosensitive. This means they may burn easily in the sun.
If you do not have access to antibiotics keep washing the wound, keep using antiseptic on it while cleaning and keep it clean. Make sure the area is draining and no closures have developed that would cause an abscess to form. If you do develop an abscess, you will have to cut it open. You can use a surgical glove to make a drain for it. Cut off a finger of the glove, roll it into a tube shape and put it in place to ensure that the wound keeps draining.
There are items you should have in your go-bag to ensure you are prepared for these types of injuries. You should carry an antiseptic like betadine. You should carry a scalpel or very clean blade to cut open potential abscesses. You should carry a pen that will work on skin. Bandages are an absolute must in your bag. You can carry suture material to secure a drain but never suture a cat or dog bite closed.
Another common side effect of wounds that people worry about is commonly known as "blood-poisoning." Blood poisoning actually has nothing to do with blood. It is really lymphangitis. Basically, the lymphatic channels carrying spent white cells back to the nodes. When the nodes get overloaded there is a backup and you will see a red line appearing that heads from the wounds towards the nearest node. This does not mean that your body is going septic. Keep you eye on it but it should go away and it is not a major concern.
When the Katrina hurricane occurred the local dog population in the affected area started forming packs withing seventy two hours of the incident. Dog packs will form fast and they will return to a reliance on instinct. An instinct that tells them that people are made of meat and are a potential food source.
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"The eagle flies high to capture the snake."