Bites, Animal and Human
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- Bite rates vary by species: dogs (60–90%), cats (5–20%), rodents (2–3%), humans (2–3%), and rarely other animals, including snakes
- System(s) affected: potentially any
Young children are more likely to sustain bites and have bites that include the face, upper extremity, or trunk.
- Predominant age: all ages but children > adults
- Predominant gender: dog bites, male > female; cat bites, female > male
- 3 to 6 million animal bites per year in the United States (1)
- Account for 1% of all injury-related ED visits
- 1–2% will require hospital admission, and 20 to 35 victims die from dog bite complications annually.
Etiology and Pathophysiology
- Most dog bites are a domestic pet known to the victim.
- Most (~90%) cat bites are provoked.
- Dog bites most commonly reported from pit bull terriers, and German shepherds.
- Human bite wounds are typically incurred by striking another in the mouth with a clenched fist.
- Bites also occur incidentally (e.g., paronychia due to nail biting, thumb sucking, or nonmalicious gentle bites to the face, breasts, or genital areas).
- Animal bites can cause tears, punctures, scratches, avulsions, or crush injuries.
- Contamination by oral flora leads to infection.
- Older, male dogs more likely to bite.
- Clenched-fist human bites are frequently associated with the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Patients presenting >8 hours following the bite are at greater risk of infection.
- Instruct children and adults about animal hazards.
- Enforce animal control laws.
- Educate dog owners.