Risk factors, prevention and prophylaxis of dog bites for disaster response personnel in the United States.

S. E. Heath, Bruno B Chomel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

It commonly is rumored that in large scale disasters, packs of dogs present a human health hazard because of dog bites. However, it is likely that factors other than pack behavior comprise greater risk factors for dog bites in disaster-response personnel. Important risk factors include: 1) the density of the human population, which in turn, determines the number of dogs at a disaster site; 2) territorial behavior of dogs at their site of residence, which determines the frequency with which dogs may bite; and 3) whether rabies is present at endemic or epidemic levels within the area in which the disaster is occurring, which determines the likelihood of fatal outcomes. Persons bitten by a dog should seek medical attention as contraction of rabies may result in a fatal outcome from a dog bite. It is recommended that disaster response personnel obtain pre-exposure vaccination against rabies. Vaccinated or not, they immediately should seek post-exposure treatment for rabies following potential exposure.

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