As you may guess from the title of this blog post, yesterday’s second foray into the big city on roller blades did not go exactly as planned. Which is how I find myself the proud owner of a multiply-punctured and torn pair of pants, a well-defined tooth-scratch/bite down the back of my leg, with accompanying pretty green bruise, a carefully-applied piece of gauze, and a small piece of paper exhorting me to go back to the clinic for the next four doses of rabies vaccine.
This is not the first time I have been bitten by a dog here in Chile. In fact, it is the third. The first time I surprised a nursing mamadog, and she lept up and bit the back of my knee/thigh (I was wearing bike shorts at the time). I was on a long bikeride, and no one seemed too concerned, so I just kept riding and later investigated the prevalence of rabies in Chile, which is very low, in dogs, depending on who you ask. (Update: as of August, 2013, there is a possible case of rabies due to dog bite in Viña del Mar. Rabies is almost always fatal).
The second time I was biking down Catedrál, along the Plaza de Armas, when out of nowhere, a dog sunk his teeth into the heel of my Keen shoe. She didn’t get any blood, but I got the scare of my life. I wrote about it here.
And then there was yesterday. I was heading to a friend’s paella party, with three carrot cake loaves and some frosting in my bag, along with a change of shoes and a coat and scarf that belonged to the paellero, accidentally left behind. I was blading along, and I saw a dog make eye contact with my skates. He was lying beside a kiosk in a tree-well (like a tree box, but sunken), and he lunged. Of course he knocked me over, and ripped the hell out of my pants and scared me something fierce. I immediately blamed the kiosk guy, asking “Is that your dog?” Which is stupid, because of course he’s not his dog. Why is a guy who sells newspapers going to adopt a dog for real? He might bring him some food, but that’s where the relationship ends. I bought some bubbly water to immediately flush the wound, and then went on, washing the cut out with laundry detergent, and later bleach, when I got to my friend’s house. But first I talked to a cop on the street, and she advised me to go to the posta (public clinic), which I pshawed, and then skated away quickly when some well-meaning onlooker tried to engage me in a conversation about the street dogs, a topic in which I am already well-versed.
Then this morning I woke up and thought, okay, Smith. Think about this. You’ve been bitten three times in seven years. Doesn’t it just make sense to get the post-exposure vaccine, so that the next time it happens (and I feel confident it will), you can just get the booster and be done with it?
So here’s the scoop. Bitten by a dog? Try to get a good look at it. Street dog or owned dog? If it’s an owned dog, check out its rabies vax situation. Don’t assume that an owned dog is up-to-date on its vaccines. If the dog bit you totally unprovoked, and/or seemed to be in a bad state, mention to this to the doc. My course is only 5 doses, but there are courses with more, and that include immunoglobulin (a human or equine blood derivative).
Then go to the posta. In Santiago there is the Posta Central, a short walk from Santa Lucía metro, at Diagonal Portugal con Paraguay. Go to the “urgencia” and tell them you were bitten by a dog (Me mordió un perro). Though if you have private insurance in Chile (ISAPRE), attention at the posta is generally very expensive (29,990 for a single visit! (more than 60 bucks!)), attention for a dog bite is free, as is the vaccine. Score. there are postas all over Chile, and there’s another one on Salvador near Rancagua, but this one was closest, so it’s where I went. They’re public hospitals, but not frightening, not dirty, not overcrowded or undersupplied or understaffed. They look different from the private clinic I go to, a little worn around the edges but to all appearances, they are more than adequate. And more than surprised to see a gringa this morning.
I was in and out in a half an hour, and the doctors and nurses all seemed incredibly entertained by my story, and the doc who saw me wanted to make sure I was uninjured in other respects, and so squeezed me a bit. He probably couldn’t understand how someone could fall on skates and escape unscathed. I told him, “I’m an athlete, I fall all the time, plus I was wearing wrist guards”. After the vaccine (in the deltoid), the nurse irrigated the (now-closed) wound with sterlie solution and taped some gauze of it. I can’t help but think that my laundry detergent and bleach routine was more effective.
For the follow up I have to find a “consultorio del barrio” (neighborhood clinic) somewhere near where I live. Which will be yet another fun, first-time, bloggable event. There are five shots in all, one at day 0, one at 3, one at 7, one at 14 and one at 28 days. I think I won’t be in Chile for my 28th day one, and when I told them I could just get the vaccine in Peru, they were all, “it’s different! not the same! protocols are different! vaccines are different! Peru!” Which means either I’ll delay the 5th vax, get it in Peru or start frothing at the mouth.
I (mostly) promise not to bite anyone.
bonus: today everyone I heard getting interviewed about why they were at the hospital was asked about their meat or alcohol consumption in the wake of the national holiday. That made me laugh a little. Hope everyone’s ok.
Oh no, glad you’re ok! I have luckily only gotten that stare from dogs when I’ve been biking with Rodolfo, and he’s got the well-timed kick down pat. And dogs are not very interested in me after he’s connected his foot with their mouths (which I don’t usually condone, but when a dog is trying to eat your foot, I think you’re well within your rights to fight back).
I was thinking of carrying a stick. I don’t want to hit anyone, but if I need to, don’t think I won’t.
What a pain in the…..well, in the deltoid!
Glad you’re okay.
luckily the shot is not that painful or I am very fierce. It’s a little sore, but still not as painful as the bite itself. I wished they’d had a free tailor near the free clinic to sew up my pants!
That sucks! My next door neighbours back home had 2 giant dogs they liked to neglect and once in a while they left the gate open, so I know a lot of people who had to get their shots and how much it sucks.
The most frustrating thing is the whole having to go get the rest of the rabies shots thing. And I can only imagine what kind of horse and pony show it will be to get them to register me at the “neighborhood clinic”. I will bring a book (and my camera), and be sure to report back.
And yes, it hurts when I squat down, and I have a pretty bruise, but it’s funny to me how quickly Chilean docs want you to have an analgesic for the pain. I guess it’s because they don’t keep them in the house, like we ibuprofen and alleve-popping gringas. (Not you Sharon!)
yikes, glad to hear you’re okay. that’s a lot of shots, not something someone who is afraid of needles would like to hear. :p
luckily I’m not afraid of needles! I don’t have that much experience with them, but they just don’t freak me out. I’m sure after your jaw surgery, most medical stuff is just a blip to you, or no? Thanks for the well-wishes!
It seems dogs really love you! I was almost eaten alive by my aunt’s dog when I was 3, but it was my fault, poor thing I drove him crazy 😀 13 years later, I was young and he was old, he definitely remembered me, but instead of biting me again he just looked for some cuddle 🙂
the way you describe your aunt’s dog’s attack makes me wonder why they didn’t do anything to the dog, but a friend of mine was also attacked by her grandparents’ dog, who also was allowed to live out his life free and clear. Glad you get along with the dog later in life. I’m not even sure how many times I’ve been bitten, now that I think about it. I don’t provoke them, unless having wheels under you is provocation. Story forthcoming!
oh, no! I’m so sorry to see you were bitten … again! We were walking through the P de A yesterday, and noticed a roller blader … wonder if it was you — pre mordida. And BOTH my girls stopped quite often to pet / talk to the many many dogs there. Damn, maybe I’ll reconsider their friendliness.
We found the Aji Seco, btw … don’t know if you’ve blogged about it or not, but if you haven’t, go there! good prep for your Peru trip. It’s on San Antonio, maybe 3 blocks from the Plaza.
hey deirdre, thanks, and I don’t think it was me roller blading, as that event happened on Sunday night, and I’m a little a) sore and b) gunshy at the moment. The dogs aren’t horrible curs, so much as they get freaked out with new stuff, I guess! I don’t know if I’d want to let kids pet dogs, because you just never know, but if seems like your mom-dar has been working out so far.
Also, I went to Ají Seco, but not that one, the one on Amunategui and Augustinas, and both my friend and I loved it. I’m sure Peruvian food will not be a problem in Peru. Man there’s some good cooking there! Thanks for popping in and the bite sympathy. I’d like some more for tomorrow when I have to go to the neighborhood health clinic to try to get another shot!
Oh, I am sorry to here about your dog bite! Glad to here your experience at the “Posta Central” was good.
I didn’t have such luck yesterday! I had to take my daughter for another “control” at the hospital. Appointment at 9.30am, (please arrive half hour earlier), surgeons arrive after 10am, and we were seen around 11am. After the control the secretary sends us all over the hospital to wait in other lines to make an appointment for a scan. The earliest scan is for next year…I go back to tell the secretary and she says, “I know. Maybe best to go to a clinic outside the hospital in a month”. Arrgg, why didn’t she tell me that first!
Can’t really complain, just shut up or go private.
Can’t wait to read about your trip to Peru, especially the food!
so this is a public hospital? At the clinic I went to today (story forthcoming), the wait times on appointments seemed kind of crazy long. I hope you can get the imaging done without having to wait another year. Are you on FONASA? Maybe you can find somewhere reasonably priced? Hope so! This is for the one with the appendicitis, right? Hope everyone is doing better!
And yes, most excited about the food in Peru!
Yes on Fonasa, and it isn’t that expensive to do in a Clinic, but just frustrating that the woman didn’t tell me before she sent me running around the hospital. And we are doing better thanks.
Now we have to try and get our daughter back into the routine of school, after almost 2 months off. She isn’t behind, but is nervous after everything that has happened.
Glad to hear things are moving along, and good luck to your daughter getting back in the swing of things! I guess I should have said “do you have FONASA” but it sounded better to me in English as “Are you on FONASA” (at the time). And yes, the “why didn’t you tell me?” is always met with blank looks of “why didn’t you ask?”
I had absolutely no idea it was safe to wash a wound out with laundry detergent or bleach?! Not just an entertaining blog – educational too 🙂
well, an ex boyfriend from high school once told me it was antibacterial. Not sure if it’s true, but it seemed stronger than dove or whatever soap was on hand. Probably not a good idea to use bleach, but there was no rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Come to think of it, I should have applied some gin! Oh, and the doc wasn’t that impressed with my first aid, but I don’t see how “irrigating” the (closed) wound with sterile solution sixteen hours later was the right thing, either.
Pepper spray tends to make the bastard ones back off. There’s a German Shepherd quiltro in Parque Forestal that used to growl, bark and lunge for my dogs and me. Under normal circumstances I would have just let Bella, my own former street dog, deal with it (she kicks arse with other dogs, she’s even bossed a friend’s growly and huge great dane, twice her size!) but I can’t let her off the lead safely there what with all the cars zooming by on Andres Bello. So after the third time of having to make a quick escape with this dog running alongside with his battle face on, I pepper sprayed him good and proper and now whenever he sees me he runs off to the other side of the park. Matt 1 Vicious Street Dog 0.
A long time ago, I felt bad for all the quiltros, now I just see them as a danger to everyone who has to share the streets with them because they bite passers-by, because of the filth and disease spread by their constant shitting and because they cause countless traffic accidents.
And despite Chileans seeming to believe that the dogs are charming and living a natural life dodging cars and scavenging for food (erm, they’re domesticated animals, we domesticated them and therefore we’re obliged to look after them), the first thing almost every single foreigner I’ve met through work or randomly talking to remembers about Chile is the amount of street dogs and how bad it looks for the country. Not Patagonia. Not Atacama. Not wine. Not the beautiful scenery. Not Valparaiso. Not Chile’s ‘economic miracle’. They immediately think of the street dogs. That’s some great imagen pais.
oh, you should see where the argument/conversation is going on the piece I wrote for Matador about throwing rocks at street dogs. In fact, here: take a look. http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/throwing-rocks-at-dogs-in-chile/ And yes, the street dogs don’t do much for the imagen! I’m sorry you had to teach that doga bout pepper spray, but I’m glad he leaves Bella alone!
I was bitten by a dog today, less than an hour after arriving in Santiago. It came up behind me and sunk its teeth into my leg as I was leaving the bus station. It kept trying to bite me as a was walking away, it had two other dogs with it, but they did not attack.
I’m going to try a clinic in the morning. I don’t really speak Spanish..
They need to get rid of these dogs–
ugh, sorry to hear it. Don’t go to a clinic, go to the posta. They have to treat you for free. Someone will probably come up and try to help, translationwise, or bring a friend. Hope you get taken care of. In other news, incidence of rabies is small, but since it’s pretty much deadly, never can be too safe. Suerte!
Ugh I was running today and got bit by a pitbul. It was in a nice neighborhood and the owner saw the whole thing. He let his dog out, no leash, and it chased me down and clamped hard. 3 punctures and one bad one. The Dr. Said no stitches although I think I need a few. I got 2 shots in my arm and some saline and tape on my leg that is now killing me. I am supposed to go back in 3 says to the clinic but my girlfriend said it was not for another rabies shot but to check my wound. Do you know the name of the shots you got for the rabies?
So sorry to hear it, spencer. It sounds terrifying. First, you will not get stitches for a dogbite. It is too easy for bacteria to take hold in a closed environment.
I am assuming you are in santiago. It is not the clinic you should have gone to, but the posta. From there they semd you for follow-up visits to a low cost neighborhood clinic, though all the treatment for dogbites from the posta and these little clinics is free. The shots are usually given in a series of 5, after a few days, then a week, etc. The serum is called Verorab. If you look on the blog you will find more info on my experience. Suerte! Can you name the street?
I was attacked by three dogs in Castro Chiloé, a few days ago. I decided against rabies injections, as 76, rather thin, and not sure I’d recover from all that medicine. So far no rabies or serious infection! What shocks me is the lack of government concern. If a guy in a nearby house had not heard me calling for help, the dogs would have had me on the ground, and I’d not be writing this! I’ve since heard of a man killed by dogs in Valparaiso, a man in Cacoa Chiloé found on the road seriously injured by dogs bites. It appears to be amazingly common, but the first country where the dogs work in a pack.
this is horrific! I am so sorry to hear this happened to you. I have never had an experience anything like that. I hope you are doing ok, and aren’t put off of travel forever! I am definitely always on the lookout for urban dogs because I’m mostly in the city. I’ve been to Chiloé a few times and hadn’t heard it was particularly bad there, but of course I believe you. I got the rabies shot as a precaution, and because I suspect I’ll be bitten again someday. I hope you continue to heal and suffer no long-term effects!
Feel free to delete this but these comments on how to treat dogs are reprehensible. I scrolled through this comment section with my jaw on the floor. I’ve lived in Santiago for many years, and other places with dogs (including aggressive ones), even helping in shelters that deal with feral animals. If a dog bites or attacks, chances are it associates human arms or legs with danger because of past abuse. You are literally making the animal more dangerous for the next person who interacts with it. I understand raising your arm with a rock as a threat or fighting back physically when contact is made… but implying an animal should be put down after a provoked incident or the person who said to use PEPPER SPRAY?! Absolutely disgusting. Dogs do not have self control. We do. Exercise some compassion and carry a bottle of water to dump on their heads. Google some humane methods of protecting yourselves. Shameful behavior.