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Animal Bites Prevention

By Airmen 1st Class Brennen Johncock and Cody Moss 2nd Aerospace Medical Squadron

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During the month of January 2015, three animal bites were reported for Team Barksdale. A year later this number grew to five cases reported in the first month of 2016, and one of these cases was from a wild animal, the rest were domestic dogs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S., and one out of five victims become infected. Among the most at risk are men and children. Men are more likely to be bitten than women, and children from ages five to nine years of age have the highest rate of dog bite related injuries. Surprisingly, most dog bites occur at home with familiar faces - - family pets.

To help prevent these incidents, the CDC offers advice on animal encounters. Basic safety tips include reporting any unfamiliar or oddly behaving animal, not approaching unfamiliar animals, and if you are approached, remain calm. Also, never run from a dog, but stay still. Standing with the side of the body facing a dog gives a less aggressive feeling, deescalating tension.

If ever bitten, immediately wash wounds with soap and water, and seek immediate medical attention. Animals can spread bacteria to people through saliva and open wound contact. There are more than 60 different kinds of bacteria found in animal mouths, and without treatment, this could lead to: tetanus, MRSA, pasteurella, Capnotcytophaga spp., and most importantly, rabies. Rabies is one of the most serious diseases people can get from animal bites. Although it’s rare to get rabies, it is a virus that affects the brain and is almost always fatal. An important step to preventing rabies is maintaining up-to-date vaccination records for all house pets, including cats, ferrets and dogs.

For the safety and well-being of Airmen and their families, the 2nd Medical Group Public Health flight advises caution when interacting with animals, stray and domestic. The most effective prevention to animal bites is education. If you have any question regarding animal bites, contact Public Health 456-6599 or visit www.cdc.gov/features/dog-bite-prevention.