Saturday, December 8, 2012

Is it too late for me to get a shot from a dog bite that happened about 10 years ago?

Q. I was bitten by a dog on my foot when I was about 9 or 10 years old (about 10 years ago). I lied to my mother that I had something dropped on my foot (don't ask me why). I didn't know at that time that I was supposed to get a shot.

The scar was very small since I was wearing sneakers, but it was bleeding.

Should I be worried? Should I still get a shot?

A. You should have gotten a rabbies shot or had the dog tested a long time ago. If you haven't shown signs of rabbies, you're fine and there's not much you can do now

Bitten by a dog, can't get to doc's for two days, tetanus shot?
Q. I was bitten by a cranky old dog today, just one little bloody puncture hole. I thought I should get a tetanus shot since I haven't had one in 8 years, but I can't get to the doctor's until Monday. Is that too late to get a tetanus shot?

A. Why can't you see a doctor til Monday?

You probably don't need to go to an ER, but if there was an urgent care facility (Around here we have a chain called ASAP Medical) or an outpatient clinic attached to a hospital to either of those facilities would happily give you a shot.

My doctor's office has an answering service that will contact my doctor or one of the partners in her practice, whoever is on call that day, to answer a question.

You can probably call the hospital ER and ask to have a nurse answer your question, too.

I would not go to an er, because you will sit and wait until everybody else has been taken care of. A puncture wound will be triaged and be treated after the car accidents, stabbing victims from last evenings bar fights, people with unexplained head pain, possible heart attacks and strokes, crying children with ear infections, broken limbs, (life threatening condition, actually, because the broken bone can sever an artery). You will see the doc about the same time as the constipated little old man in the waiting room.

Call your doctor's number anyway and see what happens. I'll bet you get an answer from someone, one way or the other. There is a time limit after which the shot is not so effective, but I'm not a doctor.

Do I need a tetanus shot for a dog bite?

A. Contact your doctor if it actually broke the skin. You may need a tetanus shot, and also there might be other things that need to be tested for. Check out and look up animal bites.

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