Getting attacked by a dog in New York is something that can be terrifying and painful. Dog bite victims may also be at risk of suffering even more after the initial incident if the bacteria from the bite causes an infection. There are several different potential infections caused by dog bites.

Some dog bite victims need to seek medical treatment for serious bites and to prevent infection. According to the New York City Health Department, emergency room visits for dog bites rose 12% from 2007 to 2014. Treatment of dog bites may include cleaning the injury, closing the wound, administering vaccinations, prescribing antibiotics and assessing the patient’s risk of developing an infectious disease.

Pediatrics in Review, a journal from the American Academy of Pediatrics, reports that infections in dog bites occur in approximately 20% of cases involving children. Infections in dog bites happen when bacteria from the dog’s mouth enter the victim’s body through the broken skin. Dogs may carry harmful bacteria such as Pasteurella, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus in their mouths. Infections from these pathogens may cause pain, swelling and redness.

In some cases, infected dog bites may cause sepsis, rabies or tetanus. Sepsis is a serious infection that travels to the blood and could potentially cause organ damage or failure. Dog bite victims at risk of a rabies infection must get a series of rabies shots to protect themselves against this deadly disease. If a dog bite victim does not get a tetanus shot and develops this rare disease, it could cause paralysis.

Some dog bites could lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Seeking medical treatment after a bite and following the doctor’s recommendations reduce the risk of developing serious infections.