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Helping patients after a dog bite

3 years ago July 12, 2012 Jul 12, 2012 Thursday, July 12 2012 Thursday, July 12, 2012 4:30:34 PM CDT in Health
By: AE Stevenson

BATON ROUGE - The Center for Disease Control reports that about 4.5 million patients are bitten by dogs, of those people 800,000 end up in the emergency room. We spoke with Dr. Anthony Stephens about what you and your family should know.

Dr. Stephens says out of the millions of people bitten, only 15 to 20 will actually die from their injuries.

"Most of them are children between the ages of five and nine, and from those we see it from a family dog or from a dog that they know," he said.

Here is what Dr. Stephens says parents should do and know when a dog bite happens.

  • If your child has been bitten by a dog, take them to the emergency room
  • If available, bring medical records of the dog including immunizations
  • Carry the immunizations of your child, because the doctor will want to know if your child has had a tetanus shot.

He says there are also specialized surgeries that can be used to repair damage from dog bites, which goes beyond torn skin and could even include crushed bones, tendons or nerves.  Micro-surgery maybe used to repair nerve damage, but not all wounds can be repaired right away, mostly because of the depth of the wound.

"We don't want to repair a wound that might be on the leg that's a deep crushed injury," he says.  "Faces we usually repair right away, so that's usually done, if it's a small laceration in the emergency room."

He says kids with scars from dog bites can also get reconstructive surgery further down the road.

"There are a lot of times that kids come in and they've been teased at school from some of these scarring from a dog bite, say to the nose," he said.  "It's usually around six or seven that's about when kids start picking at one another at school and we'll actually reconstruct them at that point in time which makes a big difference in their life in their family's life."

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