Dog Bites Can Be Deadly Too
While most people assume most rabies deaths are a result of a dog bit, bats are actually the leading cause of rabies deaths in people in the United States.
Rabies can spread to people from bats after minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites or scratches.
Exposure to rabid bats is the leading cause of rabies in humans in the U.S., accounting for 70% of people who become infected, reported the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, dog bites are causing increasing deaths in the U.S.
According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Quick Stats announced on September 8, 2023, from 2011–2021, a total of 468 deaths from being bitten or struck by a dog occurred.
Recently, more deaths occurred among females than among males.
From 2018 to 2021, deaths more than doubled for males (15 to 37) and females (20 to 44).
Victims of severe dog attacks often suffer acute damage, which may require expensive specialized medical care treatment, says DogBites.org.
Reconstructive surgery, such as skin grafts, tissue expansion, and scar diminishment, often requires multiple procedures over the years.
Furthermore, various medical studies show that pit bulls inflict most of these damaging attacks.
Despite evidence that animal vaccination programs and eliminating stray dogs have reduced the incidence of human rabies, dog rabies remains common in many countries.
Furthermore, exposure to rabid dogs is still the cause of 99% of human rabies deaths worldwide.
Because vaccines to prevent human rabies have been available for more than 100 years, most deaths from rabies occur in countries with inadequate public health resources and limited access to preventive treatment.
Scientists have shown that once 70% of dogs are vaccinated, rabies can be successfully controlled in an area, and human deaths can be prevented.
In even the most prosperous countries, the cost of an effective dog rabies control program is high.
For example, the estimated annual expenditure for rabies prevention in the United States is over US$300 million, most of which is spent on dog vaccinations.
And the annual turnover of approximately 25% in the dog population necessitates the revaccination of millions of animals each year, says the CDC.