Monday, December 22, 2003

What happens when you get bitten by a dog

Is the drama from living in the Philippines, or is it simply the reality of having kids?

Sunday evening was the Ambassador's holiday party. Lucky us were invited, so at 4 p.m. we left, with the kids and the housekeeper at the playground. Sometime between 5 and 5:15, Ian's cell phone rang.
Ian took the call as Katherine announced that at the park Jonathon had been bitten by a dog, was bleeding, and the housekeeper was "completely overreacting". Ian hung up and told me what she said. My questions... where was he bitten and how badly (thinking about stitches) and was the dog with someone (thinking about rabies). No idea, so back on the phone he talked to Katherine again and we learned it was on his knee and the dog was with people. At least it wasn't a stray. We wouldn't learn more of the story until arriving home.
Putting together bits and pieces, we learned that no one had actually seen Jonathon get bitten. The dog was a puppy, but not one I remember seeing at the park. It had no collar or tags, but when the housekeeper asked about vaccinations they said it had them. That's unreliable at best. No one knows if Jonathon was bitten or scratched, but the marks are teeth distance apart. The people with the dog said that it was not a bite. Again, that's unreliable. The marks themselves are tiny, both covered by a little bandage. It's unlikely that the dog is carrying terrible diseases as it was with people, but without knowing its immunizations or knowing its habits (do they leave it outside for long periods? Has it ever wandered the neighborhood? Was it a picked up stray?) there were too many questions.
OK, disjointed bits here and there, the decision I made last night was to take Jonathon to the clinic first thing in the morning. The doctor said it didn't matter if it was a bite or a scratch, the fact that it broke the skin was enough. I hadn't had any of the kids receive the rabies series, so in the office I decided not only to have Jonathon vaccinated, but the other kids as well. It's lifetime immunity for them, a one time 3-shot series. With all the dogs they come into contact with here and in subsequent posts, it makes sense. Why didn't I think this 6 months ago? Chalk it up to stupidity and a misplaced reliance on luck.
Anyhow, the older three have all received shot #1. Jonathon has as well, along with a gammaglobulin injection (in his bottom no less, a -huge- shot that was quite unpleasant for the little guy). He'll get shot #2 on Christmas Day. The third will come next week, the fourth the week after and the 5th 2 weeks after that.
Tip for the day: If you live in a country where rabies is prevalent and you like animals, get the vaccine series. Three shots are better than six. Just ask Jonathon.

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