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Summer winds down, but keep your guard up against dog bites

Though it will be all too soon that we'll all be barricaded inside our homes against another La Crosse winter's cold, we should remember that as summer winds down, it's still dog bite season out there.

We recently read with an interest a column about animal bites by a doctor warning that these last days of summer are just as dangerous as the first days when kids and everyone else ventures outside to enjoy the warmth.

The doctor reminds us that each year about five million Americans are bitten by animals; about 80 percent of those are dog bites.

Approximately one out of every 10 dog bites requires medical attention; half of those are treated in hospital emergency rooms. About four percent of dog bite victims must be hospitalized to treat serious wounds that can leave not only physical scars but psychological wounds -- especially in young children who are bitten.

Most fatal dog bites are inflicted on kids between the ages of five and nine. The children are often familiar with the dog, the dog's owner, and the dog owner's property.

The dog breeds associated with the most dog bites, says the doctor, are rottweilers, pit bulls, chows and German shepherds.

A much smaller percentage of animal bites (about 15 percent) are caused by cats. Many of the victims are older women. Cat fangs are sharp and can embed bacteria deep in tissues; often in the hands (the area most frequently bitten).

The bacteria can result in severe and deep infections, so if you suffer a cat bite, have it checked out by medical personnel as soon as possible.

Remember: victims of dog bites can be due compensation for both the emotional and the physical damage done.

Source: Seguin Gazette: "Animal bites and rabies in the dog days of summer" by Dr. Robert Pape: Aug. 31, 2011

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