Dog bites on the rise, study suggests

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Jan 01, 2011
By dvm360.com staff

WASHINGTON — The number of people admitted to the hospital because of dog bites increased by 86 percent—from 5,100 to 9,500 hospital stays—between 1993 and 2008, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

On average in 2008, 866 people visited the emergency departments at hospitals each day for treatment of dog bites, according AHRQ.

The recently released data also showed:

  • Seniors and young children were most likely to be hospitalized for a dog bite. For 65- to 84-year-olds, there were 4.5 hospital stays per 100,000 people. For people age 85 and older, there were 4.2 stays per 100,000 and for children under 5 there were four stays per 100,000.
  • Compared to urban residents, people in rural areas made four times as many emergency department visits for dog bites in 2008 (119 visits per 100,000 people versus 29 visits per 100,000 people). Rural residents also had 3 times as many hospital admissions (nearly three stays per 100,000 rural residents versus less than one stay per 100,000 urban residents).
  • About 43 percent of people hospitalized for dog bites required treatment for skin and underlying tissue infection; 22 percent had wounds of the legs or arms; 10.5 percent had wounds of the head, neck and torso; and the remaining patients had problems ranging from bone fracture to blood poisoning.
  • More than half (58 percent) of all people who were hospitalized required a procedure such as wound debridement, sutures and/or skin grafts.
  • Treating patients admitted for dog bites cost hospitals $54 million, with an average of $18,200 per patient, AHRQ reports.