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We’ve dealt with dog bites and dog bite scars before.

Now, four organizations have joined forces to raise awareness during National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 15-21. It’s estimated that 4. 7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Yet most dog bites are entirely preventable through training, proper control of dogs, and education.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), and the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS) are concerned about dog bite injuries among patients of all ages. Children are the most common victims, followed by seniors and mail carriers. Every year about 600,000 children require medical attention for dog bites.

“Half of all children will be bitten by a dog by the time they are high school seniors,” said John Fraser, MD, FAAP, an injury prevention specialist who will represent the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics at the Houston event. “Every year about 600,000 children require medical attention for dog bites. As a pediatrician who has treated some of these kids, I want to do everything I can to prevent these injuries.”

Plastic surgeons, including reconstructive microsurgeons and maxillofacial surgeons, often treat victims of dog attacks and see firsthand how devastating these injuries can be. According to ASPS statistics, nearly 33,000 reconstructive procedures on dog bites were performed in 2010, up eight percent from 2009.

For more information and a brochure on dog bite prevention visit American Veterinary Medical Association web site.

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The number of Americans hospitalized for dog bites almost doubled over a 15-year-period, increasing to 9,500 in 2008 from 5,100 in 1993, a new government study reports (Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008). The increase vastly exceeded population growth, and pet ownership increased only slightly during the same period, said the report’s author, Anne Elixhauser, a senior research scientist with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Common principal diagnoses for dog bite-related hospitalizations included skin and subcutaneous tissue infections; open wounds of extremities; open wounds of head, neck, and trunk; and fractures of upper limbs.

About 866 people a day went to the emergency room with dog bites in 2008, and about 26 people were admitted each day.

Children under 5 and adults 65 and older were most likely to be hospitalized after a bite, and residents of rural areas made four times as many emergency room visits and had three times as many hospital admissions for dog bites than those from nonrural areas, the report said.

Dog bite wounds are difficult to treat and can leave nasty scars. It is important to immediately contact a doctor who can provide the dog bite treatment needed to minimize infection and scarring.

Dog bites can be complicated with deep punctures and some tissue shredding dependent upon the type of dog.

Minor cuts generally only require a thorough cleaning and bandaging of the wound. However, if infection is suspected, it is important to immediately contact a doctor who can provide the dog bite treatment needed. Signs of infection may include redness, swelling, red streaking, and fever. Seeking proper dog bite treatment is crucial to patient recovery.

Other reasons to seek medical care include: a gaping wound, a wound that does not stop bleeding, open wounds on the face. Some dog bite scars are best treated with scar revision, sometimes tissue expansion, and secondary treatments, e.g. silicone gel like Strataderm.

A recent study showed that 1,000 Americans per day are treated in emergency rooms as a result of dog bites. In 2007 there were 33 fatal dog attacks in the USA. Most of the victims who receive medical attention are children, half of whom are bitten in the face.

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