Marked Increase Seen in Serious Dog Bites

by Rodrigo Flores, age 15

The number of hospitalizations related to dog bites has increased substantially during the last 15 years. A new government study shows that the number of reported dog bites has almost doubled reaching 9,500 by 2008.
This report consisted of an analysis of emergency visits and inpatient stays and included data from the Nationwide Emergency Department sample for 2008 and from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for 1993-2000.
”It’s a pretty hefty increase,” said Dr. Anne Elixhauser, a senior research scientist with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
In 2008, about 866 people per day went to the emergency room because of these types of incidents. Young children under five and adults over 65 were most likely to be hospitalized after a bite. Residents of rural areas are more likely to be bitten. Rural residents make about  four times as many emergency room visits and had three times as many hospital admissions because of dog bites.
Half of the patients needed treatment for skin and tissue infections. More than half needed procedures like skin grafts or wound debridement: a process of removing dead tissues. These treatments cost an average of $18,200 per person.
Reviewing the data, many experts say it is important for dog owners to use proper safety precautions in an effort to help everyone feel safe.
[Source: The New York Times]