Dog bites highest in deprived areas
Hospital admissions for dog bites are three times as high in the most deprived areas of England as in the least, official figures show.
A report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed Merseyside had the highest rate, in the 12 months to January 2014.
The HSCIC figures show dog bites and injuries accounted for 6,740 admissions overall - up 6% on the previous year,
Young children were the most commonly affected.
The data rate for hospital admissions linked to dog bites and strikes for people living in the 10% most deprived areas was 24.1 per 100,000, compared with 8.1 per 100,000 in the 10% least deprived areas.
An HSCIC map displaying the variations shows the highest rates were in Merseyside (281 admissions - 23.6 per 100,000 population), Durham, Darlington and Tees (269 admissions - 22.8 per 100,000), and West Yorkshire (498 admissions - 21.7 per 100,000).
Dog bites are more common in the summer, and children under nine are the most likely to be injured.
They suffer more head injuries than teenagers and adults, who are more likely to experience wounds to the wrists and hands.
The HSCIC data also looks at injuries from other animals, such as horses, foxes and cats.
In the 12 months to January 2014, there were 2,970 admissions for such injuries - up from 2,700 the previous year.
Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had the highest rate.
Kingsley Manning, chairman of the HSCIC, said: "Hospital admissions for bites and strikes by dogs are three times as high in the most deprived areas of England as in the least deprived areas.
"This is fascinating new data that we haven't produced before.
"We know that dog bite rates are particularly high among young children.
"As we head towards the summer months, when admission rates for dog bites are at their highest, these trends may be worth further study by healthcare organisations and public sector bodies."