One in six of those admitted to hospital for a dog bite is a child aged under 10. See what the data says
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The death of 14-year-old Jade Anderson killed by a pack of dogs has focussed attention on the animals in the UK.
The latest data shows that 6,447 people were admitted to hospital for dog bites in 2011-12 – a 5.2% rise on the previous 12 months.
Of those, under-10s accounted for the highest rate of admissions by 10 year age group with 17 per 100,000 population. That is 1,040 admissions.
If you look at the historic data, that shows that in 1989-90, 991 were admitted. If we accept that data (and there’s some argument over whether the Hospital Episodes Statistics on which this is based was as well-reported then) that is a 551% increase in two decades.
To put it in perspective, there were 17.6m admissions to Accident and Emergency departments in 2011-12. For every million A&E treatments, there are 366 hospital admissions for dog bites. To add a bit more context, the RSPCA says there are 8.5m dogs in the UK – this means there are around 75 serious dog bite admissions to hosptial for every 100,000 dogs.
They’re not the only things people are bitten by, of course – arthropods (mosquitoes and midges to you and I) are responsible for peaks in hospital admissions over the summer. But nevertheless, dog bites remain consistently high throughout the year.
But if you focus on mammals entirely – and take out the midges – dogs are clearly the majority of injuries.
The worst age to get seriously bitten by a dog is under nine years of age, according to this data – with a peak in the mid-to-late 40s. I’d be interested to know if anyone has any theories on why this late rise in the numbers – is this a high age for dog ownership?
The treatment figures tell a story too. In short, children are more likely to get bitten in the face, requiring plastic surgery to reconstruct them. Older people in the hands or lower body.
The HES report says:
Plastic surgery was the treatment speciality with the highest rate of admissions for all age groups under 70 and was highest for those aged 0 to 9. The 0 to 9 age group also had the highest admission rate for the Oral or Maxillo facial surgery treatment speciality and this is consistent with sustaining more facial injuries. Admission rates in the Trauma and Orthopaedics treatment speciality were increasingly higher in the older age groups (especially 50 to 69) and this is consistent with sustaining more injuries to the hands and body
There are regional differences too – bites in the northeast are over twice as bad as those in London and the South East. Any thoughts on why this is? Is there a culture of more dangerous dogs there?
The data is below for you to download. What can you do with it?