When the bite is worse than the bark

A study conducted on dog bite cases in three hospitals in Bhutan highlights the gender, age and body areas that dogs target

Human males, especially children are most susceptible to dog bites and dogs target specific areas like the thighs and legs (73%), and hands (18%), followed by the neck.

The survey ‘Dog bites in humans and estimating human rabies mortality in rabies endemic areas of Bhutan’ which is based on a hospital-based questionnaire with 324 dog-bite victims highlights some interesting points about dog bites.

The study was conducted in 2009-2010 based on case reports in Phuentsholing General Hospital, Gelephu Referral Hospital and Thimphu Hospital.

The report states that dog bite incidents were reported throughout the year with 40% bite incidents reported during the spring months followed by 28% in winter and 22% during autumn.

However, the reported incidents were lowest during the summer months with 10%.

The author of the report, Dr Tenzin said that more incidents of dog bites in spring can be attributed to the fact that it is the dog breeding season and “dogs are in heat”.

Therefore, when the dogs are in a state of agitation, they bite people more easily.

In Thimphu Hospital alone, 430 people were reported with dog bites this year.

Most of the cases occurred in the morning and evening hours. On a daily basis, more than seven people visit the hospital for rabies injections.

“A person has to complete five doses,” said a staff from the injection section in Thimphu Hospital.

Medical records at Thimphu Hospital show that last year, two cases of severe dog bites cases were reported whereby the patients had to be admitted in the hospital. This year so far, one was admitted.

Meanwhile, National Animal Husbandry (NAH) records show that last year about 28 cases were reported and this year till date, about 26 cases were reported.

About dogs targeting specific areas, Dr Kinlay Dorji from NAH, said this is because it is easier to reach legs and thigh areas and sometimes hands also get involved in self-defense. But foreign breeds attack the neck whereas stray dogs do not.

NAH’s  Dr Pema Tshewang said that “climatic conditions can also be a factor”.

Dog bites in humans is seen mostly in children and males. This trend is common throughout the world.

Reports say about 45% of school children aged between five to nine are the most common victims of dog bites.

Dr Tenzin said kids usually play with the dogs fearlessly therefore they most often than not get bitten.Thereby more rabies cases are detected in children sometimes resulting in death, he said.

Human females are least targeted by dogs.

Dr Kinlay Dorji said that most women stay indoors whereas males and kids are mostly outdoors so that could be one reason.

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