Clinical manifestations and initial management of animal and human bites
- Marvin Harper, MD
Marvin Harper, MD
- Associate Professor of Pediatrics
- Harvard Medical School
- Section Editors
- Daniel F Danzl, MD
Daniel F Danzl, MD
- Section Editor — Environmental Emergencies
- Professor of Emergency Medicine
- University of Louisville School of Medicine
- Allan B Wolfson, MD
Allan B Wolfson, MD
- Section Editor — Adult Procedures
- Professor of Emergency Medicine
- University of Pittsburgh
- Deputy Editor
- James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH
- Senior Deputy Editor — UpToDate
- Deputy Editor — Adult and Pediatric Emergency Medicine
- Deputy Editor — Primary Care Sports Medicine (Adolescents and Adults)
- Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine/Traumatology
- University of Connecticut School of Medicine
The evaluation and initial management of animal and human bites in children and adults will be discussed here.
The microbiology and infectious disease aspects of human, cat, and dog bites are covered in greater detail separately. (See "Soft tissue infections due to dog and cat bites" and "Soft tissue infections due to human bites".)
Animal bites are common worldwide and result in significant morbidity. In low- and middle-income countries, they are a significant source of rabies transmission . In the United States, there is an annual incidence of two to five million occurrences which account for about 1 percent of all visits to emergency departments [2-6]. More than one million victims of bites seek medical attention; medical costs for dog bites alone may be as much as USD $1 billion per year [7-9]. The vast majority of mammalian bites are inflicted by dogs (60 to 90 percent), with the remainder caused by cats (5 to 20 percent), rodents (2 to 3 percent), humans (2 to 3 percent), and rarely, other animals.
Approximately 10 percent of bite wounds presenting for medical attention require suturing and follow-up care, and 1 to 2 percent result in hospitalization [4,10-12]. Animal bites cause 20 to 35 deaths annually in the United States, primarily among infants and small children . Extensive morbidity, including disability and cosmetic damage, can also result from infection.
Epidemiology differs among dog, cat, and human bites:To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:
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- CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS
- Dog bites
- Cat bites
- Human bites
- Infected wound
- ANCILLARY STUDIES
- Laboratory studies
- Wound culture
- Plain radiographs and ultrasound
- Head computed tomography
- INITIAL MANAGEMENT
- Wound preparation
- - Puncture wounds
- Primary closure
- - Risk of infection
- - Delayed primary closure
- - Surgical consultation
- Antibiotic prophylaxis
- Tetanus and rabies prophylaxis
- Viral prophylaxis after human bites
- INFECTED BITES
- UNUSUAL ANIMAL BITES
- FOLLOW-UP CARE
- SOCIETY GUIDELINE LINKS
- INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS