Pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive and deadly animals. Consequently, every time you are near one of these dogs, you may want to keep a safe distance. If a pit bull attacks you, though, you should realize its saliva may be just as dangerous as its teeth.

Dogs have a type of bacteria, Capnocytophaga, in their mouths. While the bacteria is not always dangerous to humans, it may result in a life-threatening infection. Therefore, you must understand if you are at higher risk of a serious illness after a pit bull attack.

Bacteria exposure

You may encounter Capnocytophaga in a few different ways. First, a dog may introduce the bacteria into your bloodstream when biting you. Because pit bulls regularly transfer bacteria from their mouths to their paws, though, a scratch may also be enough to expose you to the bacteria. You may also contract an illness from the bacteria just by petting a dog.

At-risk individuals

With healthy individuals, the Capnocytophaga bacteria is not usually much of a health risk. After all, the human immune system is usually capable of fighting off the bacteria without antibiotics or other medical intervention.

Nevertheless, some individuals are at increased risk of serious illness after Capnocytophaga exposure. If you have a compromised immune system because of diabetes, cancer or another serious illness, you may be in danger. The same is true if you have had your spleen removed.

The importance of a medical examination

With about 20% of dog bites, individuals require immediate medical care. It is always a good idea to seek a full medical examination after a dog attack, though. Your doctor can use diagnostic tests and other tools to determine if you have developed a bacterial infection.

If you have a bacterial infection after a pit bull attack, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other therapies. Nevertheless, because an infection can be life-threatening, it is vital for you to rule out Capnocytophaga illness as soon as possible after a dog bite.