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Animal bites increase in spring

With the weather finally getting warmer and the days longer too, people are spending more time outdoors. That’s why the St. Francois County Health Center is warning Parkland residents that this is also the time of year when it starts seeing an increase in animal bite reports — most of which are dog bites.

“Dogs are wonderful companions, but any dog can bite,” said SFCHC Director Jessica McKnight. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are at highest risk for dog bites and should never be allowed to play with dogs unsupervised.

“More than half of dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs familiar to us. In addition to causing pain or injury, dog bites can lead to infections that put the victim at risk for further complications and rarely death. That’s why it’s so important to vaccinate your pets.”

McKnight offered some helpful advice on the subject of dog bites.

“You can avoid being bitten by not approaching an unfamiliar dog,” she said. “Don’t run from a dog or make loud noises — try to remain motionless. Don’t bother one that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. Make it a habit not to pet a dog without letting it first see and sniff you and don’t encourage your dog to play aggressively.”

Asked what a person should do if they are bitten or attacked by a dog, McKnight stressed that the most important thing one can do in either case is to protect themselves.

“Put your purse, bag or jacket between you and the dog,” she said. “If you are knocked down, curl into a ball with your head tucked in. Place your hands over your ears and neck. If you are able to, seek safety and immediately clean the wounds with soap and water. Should you not be able to stop the bleeding, or you feel faint or weak, call 911 immediately.”

According to McKnight, a dog bite victim should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible if the wound is serious — such as uncontrolled bleeding, loss of function, severe pain or visible body tissue; it becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen, or if the person develops a fever.

“You should also seek medical care if you don’t know whether or not the dog has been vaccinated against rabies or if it’s been more than five years since you received your last tetanus shot and the bite is deep.”

McKnight also noted that the biting incident should be reported as soon as possible.

“Anyone bitten by a dog is at risk of getting rabies,” she said. “For this reason, the bite should be reported to your city animal control officer or the health center. “Reporting the bite is especially important if you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies or the dog appears sick or is acting strangely.

“If possible, contact the owner and find out if the dog has been vaccinated for rabies. You will need the name of the veterinarian who administered the vaccine and the owner’s name, address, and phone number.”

According to the CDC, rabies is one of the most dangerous diseases people can get from dog bites. Getting rabies from a dog in the United States is rare, but it is still a risk. Rabies is a virus that affects the brain and is almost always fatal after symptoms appear. It is usually spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal.

“The best way to avoid rabies exposure is to make sure to vaccinate your pets,” McKnight said. Stray dogs or dogs that appear to sick or acting strangely should be immediately reported to animal control.”

She added that all species of mammals are at risk for the rabies virus.

“In the United States, rabies virus is most commonly found in bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes,” McKnight said. “All mammal bites should be reported by calling 573-431-1947 or dropping by the center at 1025 W. Main St. in Park Hills.”

“Dogs are wonderful companions, but any dog can bite.” — Jessica McKnight, SFCHD director

Reports of dog bites increase in the spring and summer months as people begin spending more time outdoors. Even if a dog appears friendly, remember that they can still bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs who are familiar to the victim.

Reports of dog bites increase in the spring and summer months as people begin spending more time outdoors. Even if a dog appears friendly, remember that they can still bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs who are familiar to the victim.

The major cause of skunks biting humans is the rabies virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4,857 skunks were submitted for rabies testing in 2015, of which 1,365 — or 28.1 percent — were found to be positive. Remember that any mammal can carry the rabies virus.

The major cause of skunks biting humans is the rabies virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4,857 skunks were submitted for rabies testing in 2015, of which 1,365 — or 28.1 percent — were found to be positive. Remember that any mammal can carry the rabies virus.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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