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Soft tissue infections due to dog and cat bites

Larry M Baddour, MD, FIDSA, FAHA
Section Editor
Daniel J Sexton, MD
Deputy Editor
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


Issues related to soft tissue infections resulting from dog and cat bites will be reviewed here.

Cat scratch disease, soft tissue infections due to human bites, and bites in children are discussed separately. (See "Microbiology, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of cat scratch disease" and "Soft tissue infections due to human bites" and "Clinical manifestations and initial management of animal and human bites".)

Issues related to treatment of Capnocytophaga infection are discussed separately. (See "Capnocytophaga".)


In North America, animal bites account for about 1 percent of emergency department visits and 10,000 inpatient admissions annually; approximately 1 in every 775 persons seeks emergency care for dog bites each year [1-3]. In a study of 769 dog bite victims evaluated over a two-year period in a community hospital emergency department, wound infection was evident in 2.5 percent of cases [4]. In one retrospective pediatric series that included 1592 patients who presented with human and nonhuman bites, the infection rates for dog and cat bites were 14.6 and 37.1 percent, respectively [5]. Similarly, others report infection in up to one-fifth of animal bites [6,7].

Dog bites are more common in men than in women; cat bites are more common in women than in men [8,9]. Animal bites are more common among children than among adults. (See "Clinical manifestations and initial management of animal and human bites".)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 28, 2017.
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