In response to the Grasshopper Soup column, “Good dogs bite good people”(Sierra Sun 8/1/12):
Mr. Sweigert’s statistics on the incidence of atrial fibrillation are wildly incorrect. The incidence of atrial fibrillation is 0.1 percent in people under 50 and 9 percent in people aged 80 and over. Furthermore, because many elderly patients with afib are at increased risk of falling, taking medication incorrectly, or have other conditions that prevent them from taking blood thinners, not all of them actually take Coumadin.
Mr. Sweigert’s conclusion that “at least a thousand people attending Truckee Thursdays are also on Coumadin” is pure nonsense and not even relevant to the issue being discussed. Most people taking Coumadin know that bleeding will eventually stop or can be halted with vitamin K.
As a physician practicing at the VA Medical Center in Reno, I have many patients who take Coumadin. They are often accompanied by their therapy dogs or show me pictures of their cats. Some of our elderly vets are really only enjoying life because of their pets. Being bitten or scratched by an animal while on Coumadin is not life-threatening.
So sorry to wreck your melodramatic point, Mr. Sweigert. You might slip in some dog dung at Truckee Thursday, but you’re not going to hemorrhage to death if bitten. I say people should bring well-behaved animals to Truckee Thursdays, and the animal bashers can stay home if they like.
Elena Nyhan, MD