Dog attacks are a major public health concern worldwide. In the United States, dogs bite more than 4 million people each year, occasionally resulting in fatalities. In an issue of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine (2009;20:19-25), Ricky Langley from the Division of Public Health in Raleigh, North Carolina published an article entitled, “Human Fatalities Resulting From Dog Attacks in the United States, 1979-2005.”
The statistics are instructive. In the years studied, there was an average of 19 deaths each year from dog attacks. Not surprisingly, males and children less than 10 years of age had the highest rate of death from dog attacks, with Alaska reporting the highest death rate. The number of deaths and death rate from dog attacks appear to be on the rise, perhaps for no other reason than there are more people and more dogs, in both absolute numbers and in proximity.
I am a dog lover (of friendly dogs), but am aware both as an owner and as an emergency physician that dogs will sometimes bite people, sometimes with serious consequences. Read more »