There are 4.5 million dog bites in the United States annually, and they are most common here in the Midwest. This issue was recently featured in an article on stltoday.com. According to the latest figures from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, dog bites caused 316,200 emergency room visits and 9,500 stays in the hospital in 2008. This means that visits to the hospital from the bites have nearly doubled over the past 15 years. Locally, the St. Louis County Department of Health had 1,480 reports of dog bites in 2009.
If you or a loved one is bit by a dog, you will face many serious questions beyond the obvious health concern from the wounds. Does it have rabies? Will there be long-term effects? Who will pay for the medical bills?
Rabies is very unlikely these days, but precautionary shots are still common after a bite where the history of the dog is unknown. A more common problem, especially when the bite victim is a child, is post-traumatic stress disorder. Then, many families struggle with the problem of paying for the costly medical care, where a hospital stay can reach or surpass $20,000.00.