Medline ® Abstracts for References 5,6
of 'Soft tissue infections due to dog and cat bites'
Controversies in antibiotic choices for bite wounds.
Ann Emerg Med. 1988;17(12):1321.
In the last decade much progress has been made in our understanding of animal bites. Two major areas of remaining controversy are discussed. Recent study of human bites has shown that the early literature depicting all human bites as having an extraordinarily high infection and complication rate was biased by its emphasis on human bites of the hand that presented late with infection already present. These bites, the so-called closed-fist injuries (CFI), do indeed have a poor prognosis, but it may be as much due to their location and initial neglect as to the source of the injury. Human bites elsewhere do not seem to have any higher risk than animal bites, which have an infection rate of about 10%. Human bites of the face, lips, and ears are at very low risk for infection (less than 3%) if properly treated. The CFI should be identified early and aggressively irrigated and debrided (if possible). CFI wounds can be treated on an outpatient basis if uninfected and less than 24 hours old. The economical outpatient antibiotics of choice for CFI are penicillin plus dicloxacillin; the former is needed to cover Eikenella corrodens and the latter to cover Staphylococcus aureus, both common in these wounds. Diabetics with hand infection frequently have Gram-negative infection and may warrant parenteral aminoglycosides. Second- and third-generation cephalosporins are very effective but should be reserved for special situations due to their expense. Prophylactic antibiotics are not indicated for typical bite wounds, which are low risk. The choice of antibiotic (when needed) in other bite wounds is a matter of confusion, because the only scientific data available are in vitro sensitivities, which are a very poor and crude reflection of the clinical reality. Antibiotic effectiveness in vivo is dependent on a complex summation of absorption, tissue levels (not just serum levels), host immune defenses, and the interrelationships between bacterial species present. For dog bite wounds, dicloxacillin and cephalexin are both good choices because they cover most of the broad spectrum of infecting pathogens; dicloxacillin is significantly cheaper.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
Division of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0208.
Morgan M, Palmer J
Old Pathology Laboratory, Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust, Exeter EX2 5AD. firstname.lastname@example.org