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Dog Bite: From First Aid Treatment To Preventing It, Here's All You Need To Know

Dog bites are very common in India. It is estimated that every year about 15 million people in India are bitten by animals, mostly dogs (91.5%), of which 60% are stray dogs and 40% are pet dogs [1] .

According to a study, India has approximately 25 million dogs, with a dog man ratio of 1:36 [2] . These dogs fall into four categories - pets, family dogs, community dogs and feral dogs.

Every 2 seconds a person is bitten by a dog and every 30 minutes a person dies from rabies. There is an increase in the number of cases of dog bites and the ever-increasing demand for vaccination.

In this article, we will inform you as to what to do when the dog bites you or someone else.

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What To Do When A Dog Bites [3]

Once you are bitten by a dog, it is necessary to take care of the injury as soon as possible to lower the risk of bacterial infection. In some cases, you will be able to give first aid to yourself and in other cases, medical treatment is required.

The type of first aid needed depends on the severity of the bite. Here is a list of things you should do before seeking medical attention:

  • If the skin is torn, wash the area with warm soap water and gently press on the wound to ensure a small amount of bleeding. This will aid in flushing out the germs.
  • If the skin isn't torn, wash the area with warm soap water and apply a bacterial lotion to the area.
  • If it is a bleeding wound, apply a clean cloth to the wound and gently press it to stop the bleeding. Apply an anti-bacterial lotion and cover it with a sterile bandage.
  • Watch out for signs of infection and check if it becomes red, swollen, warm and tender to touch.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 people bitten by a dog requires medical attention. Seek medical treatment immediately

  • if the bleeding doesn't stop,
  • if you experience extreme pain,
  • if you have been bitten by a dog with an unknown rabies vaccine history,
  • if the wound is too deep and exposes the bone, tendons and muscles,
  • if the wound is swollen or red and
  • if the wound oozes pus or fluid.

Also, it is important to know that taking a rabies shot is necessary after a dog bite. Rabies is a deadly virus that progresses rapidly, so immediate medical treatment is required. The rabies vaccine is a series of four injections that are given over the course of several weeks to prevent rabies or counteract the virus after a dog bite [4] .

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How To Prevent Infection

A dog's mouth contains many types of bacteria including Staphylococcus, Pasteurella and Capnocytophaga [5] . If the bacteria enter the skin through a dog bite, it can cause many complications.

So, it is very important to wash the wound as soon as you are bitten and apply topical antibiotics on the wound as prescribed by the doctor [6] . Keep the wound covered with a bandage and keep checking for any signs of infection. If you see any signs of infections, check with a doctor right away.

What You Can Do Prevent A Dog Bite [7]

  • When choosing a dog as a pet, pick the one with a good temperament.
  • Keep distance from stray dogs.
  • Do not leave children alone with a dog.
  • Avoid playing with a dog that is eating or feeding her puppies.
  • While approaching a dog, go slow and give the dog a chance to approach you.
  • If a dog becomes aggressive do not run or scream, stay calm and move slowly and try not to make any eye contact with the dog.
View Article References
  1. [1] Menezes R. (2008). Rabies in India.CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne,178(5), 564–566.
  2. [2] Sudarshan MK. Assessing burden of rabies in India. WHO sponsored national multi-centric rabies survey (May 2004).Assoc Prev Control Rabies India J2004;6:44-5.
  3. [3] Jain, P., & Jain, G. (2014). Study of General Awareness, Attitude, Behavior, and Practice Study on Dog Bites and its Management in the Context of Prevention of Rabies Among the Victims of Dog Bite Attending the OPD Services of CHC Muradnagar.Journal of family medicine and primary care,3(4), 355–358.
  4. [4] FOX, J. P., KOPROWSKI, H., CONWELL, D. P., BLACK, J., & GELFAND, H. M. (1957). Study of antirabies immunization of man; observations with HEP Flury and other vaccines, with and without hyperimmune serum, in primary and recall immunizations.Bulletin of the World Health Organization,17(6), 869–904.
  5. [5] Abrahamian, F. M., & Goldstein, E. J. (2011). Microbiology of animal bite wound infections.Clinical microbiology reviews,24(2), 231–246.
  6. [6] Morgan, M., & Palmer, J. (2007). Dog bites.BMJ (Clinical research ed.),334(7590), 413–417.
  7. [7] Lakestani, N., & Donaldson, M. L. (2015). Dog bite prevention: effect of a short educational intervention for preschool children.PloS one,10(8), e0134319.
Story first published: Monday, December 9, 2019, 20:00 [IST]
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