Pediatric Dog Bite Prevention: Are We Barking Up the Wrong Tree or Just Not Barking Loud Enough?

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Abstract

Objectives

The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate dog bite–related injuries and associated medical documentation and (2) to compare these results with a study of dog bites from the same institution 10 years prior.

Methods

Data were retrospectively collected from a pediatric emergency department from July 2007 to July 2011 for patients treated for dog bites. These data were then compared with data from the same institution from 10 years prior.

Results

A total of 1017 bite injuries were treated (average, 254.25 bites/year), which represents a 25% increase compared with 10 years prior. Comparing the 1997 and 2007 to 2011 cohorts, patient demographics, bite rate among children less than 5 years old, rate of dog breed documentation, and setting of injury were similar. Dog breed was reported in 47% (95% confidence interval [CI], 40.2–53.9) and 41% (95% CI, 38.0–44.0) of cases, respectively, in the 2 cohorts. Bites to the craniofacial region were most common (face only reported for 1997: 43.2%; 95% CI, 36.4–50 versus 2007–2011: 66.1%; 95% CI, 63.2–69.0). In both cohorts, the child's home was the most frequent setting, accounting for 43% of bites (1997: 95% CI, 30.2–55.9 and 2007–2011: 95% CI, 39.3–46.7).

Conclusions

Pediatric dog bites continue to occur frequently, and the associated factors did not change over the 10-year period: young age of child, bites to the craniofacial region, and dogs familiar to the child. Although accurate medical documentation of dog bites is a prerequisite to develop effective prevention strategies, current medical documentation of dog bites may be misguided.

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