The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have been far-reaching and devastating for many Americans. But this one is surprising.
Doctors at Colorado Children’s Hospital saw a “wave” of dogs biting children during the COVID-19 pandemic, they said in an article recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
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Dr. Cinnamon Dixon and Dr. Rakesh Mistry, who are both faculties in the University of Colorado Medical School, said the Colorado children’s emergency room saw nearly three times as many cases of dog bites in the spring of 2020 as it did at the same time last year.
“The number of dog bites is known to tend to increase during the spring and summer months,” Dixon said in a written statement. “However, this year’s rates for emergency room visits for dog bites are astounding.”
Doctors suggested that there could be multiple causes as the pandemic has kept millions of Americans at home due to remote working or job loss. They said that on-site protection may have increased the exposure of children and dogs, that dogs may take up the stress their humans are feeling, and that supervision of children and dogs may decrease as adults assume more responsibilities at home.
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Children’s Colorado is one of the largest pediatric health systems in the United States. Dixon believes the trend is likely to be beyond the hospital and even outside of Colorado.
“Families across the country are living under extreme stress and anxiety during the pandemic, and our canine friends are not immune to the mounting anxiety of their human carers,” she said. “Not to mention, more than ever, parents now have competing priorities, and they may be less focused on supervising their child when around a dog.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults are less likely than children to be bitten by a dog. Most dog bites that affect children occur from a family or other known dog, and children are more susceptible to more severe injuries from dog bites than adults.
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To avoid dog bites, Children’s Colorado recommends reaching out to children to never stroke a dog through a fence or run away from a dog, and never disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.
The hospital also said dog owners should exercise and socialize their dogs, and keep them healthy with regular veterinary care.
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