Canine bites in kids tripled throughout first lockdown, examine finds

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According to one study, a hospital emergency room for dog bites in children was three times higher than expected during the initial COVID-19 lockdown.

Findings from the University of Liverpool, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and the Dog’s Trust suggest that COVID-19 public health measures such as lockdowns and school closings can lead to increased dog bites in children. Researchers urge public health communication and education to prevent these preventable injuries.

The study looked at Alder Hey’s emergency room attendance records in Liverpool between January 2016 and September 2020.

From May to July 2020, the number of dog bite visitors tripled from an average of 15 cases per month (before the first lockdown) to a high of 44 cases in July. The percentage of total visits to the emergency room due to dog bites has quadrupled to more than 1 in 100 (1.33%) in this period by July. The victim profile in terms of age and gender of the child did not change. Girls and boys participated equally, but boys were more likely to be of a slightly older age (7-12 years versus 4-6 years). By September 2020, the number of cases had normalized again, which coincided with the reopening of the schools.

The study concludes that COVID-19 public health measures have been linked to an increase in the number of emergency room visits for dog bites in children, possibly due to children spending more time at home and higher exposure exposed to dogs.

The first author Dr. John Tulloch, a research fellow at the University of Liverpool, said, “Dogs have brought a lot of joy and companionship to many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, our results suggest that the longer periods of time children have spent while Home lockdowns and school closings may have resulted in a large and worrying number of children going to the emergency room for dog bites. In the UK we have slowly got out of lockdown but many other countries are still citizens or re-entering citizenship a lock. Unfortunately, these locks will likely increase the number of dog bites in children. “

The co-author Dr. Matt Rotheram, an emergency advisor to Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “During the initial lockdown, the number of children and teenagers coming to Alder Hey with dog bites increased dramatically. If you, if your child is bitten by a dog There are simple steps you can take. If you or your child is seriously injured, call 999 immediately. Any bite can become infected. Take the bite under warm water, remove dirt or debris, make the wound bleed and if the bleeding is profuse, put pressure on the wound and cover it with a plaster or bandage before consulting a doctor or nurse. We recommend that you keep all bites, however minor, from a health to be seen professionally, as there is always a risk of infection. “

Dog behavior expert Dr. Carri Westgarth, who led the study at the University of Liverpool, said: “Research shows that while dog ownership offers many benefits such as physical activity and companionship, bites pose a public health risk that is not just physical Injuries, however, are annoying for the whole family. Any dog ​​can bite and often there remain signs that they are feeling overwhelmed, such as putting their ears back, turning their head away, or walking away from a situation that is unnoticed, especially by children important to learn to recognize these early warning signs so that possible aggression can be prevented before it escalates. “

Co-author Dr. Robert Christley, Assistant Director of Research at Dogs Trust, said, “No matter how well your dog behaves, never leave him alone with your child, carefully monitor their interactions and take action before any worrying situation escalates. If you do escalate worry around your dog in public. Always keep him on a leash and remember to muzzle him. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior you should see your veterinarian who can look for the cause and refer you to a qualified behaviorist.

“Dogs Trust’s dog school provides dog owners with access to fun, reward-based training. These courses help owners read their dog’s behavior and teach them skills that will enable them to settle down and cope with everyday life in a home environment Events. If we can help people notice some of the more subtle ways dogs can communicate with us, it all contributes to better bonding and fewer behavioral problems. “

The researchers say more work is now needed to define whether these results are representative of the national picture and to understand the specific reasons why dog ​​bites have increased.

The study was published in the journal BMJ Pediatrics Open.

Adult hospital admissions for dog bites triple in 20 years

More information:
John SP Tulloch et al. Participation in dog bites in the pediatric emergency room during the COVID-19 pandemic: an audit in a tertiary children’s hospital, BMJ Pediatrics Open (2021). DOI: 10.1136 / bmjpo-2021-001040 Provided by the University of Liverpool

Quote: Dog bites in children tripled during the initial lockdown. Study results (2021, April 15) were accessed on April 15, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-dog-children-tripled-lockdown.html

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