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Dog Bite Injuries and Fatalities
in the United States


Introduction

Dog Bite Injuries

Dog Bite Fatalities

Risk Factors:
Breed, Victim & Place

Cost of Dog Bites

Factors that Impede Progress

Event Analysis

Prevention Strategies

References

Dog Bite Injuries

11 year-old Canadian victim of a dog bite

10 year-old boy with single bite to the face caused by mixed breed German Shepherd

Summary
  • An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur annually in the US.
  • An estimated 368,245 persons are treated in emergency departments for nonfatal dog bites annually.
  • Approximately 42% of dog bites occurred in children aged less than 14 years.
  • Dog bite rates were significantly higher for boys (293.2 per 100,000) than for girls (216.7 per 100,000).
  • Work-related dog bites are also a significant injury problem, 16,476 dog bites, or 7.9% of total dog bite injuries were work-related.
  • Children sustained 3.2 times higher bite rates that required medical attention than adults (6.4 per 1000 v. 2 per 1000).
  • Young children were more likely than adults to be bitten on the head, neck or face.
  • In 1986 there were 585,000 dog bite injuries that required medical attention. By 1995 there were 800,000, a 36% increase from 1986 to 1995.

A study by Gilchrist et al., estimated that 4.7 million dog bites occurred in the United States, and 368,245 persons received hospital emergency department care for non-fatal dog bites and related injuries in 2001. This dog bite data was drawn from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System - All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP), a nationally representative sample of U.S. hospitals that have a minimum of six beds and 24-hour emergency departments. The NEISS-AIP data further showed that approximately 42% of dog bites occurred in children aged less than 14 years, with injury rates highest for children aged 5-9 years. Dog bite rates were significantly higher for boys (293.2 per 100,000) than for girls (216.7 per 100,000), and the overall number of cases increased slightly from April through September, with a peak occurring in July (11.1%). Work-related dog bites are also a significant injury problem. The NEISS-AIP data revealed that approximately 16,476 dog bites, or 7.9% of total dog bite injuries were work-related (for those aged 16 years and older), and occurred as persons delivered mail and packages, worked at animal clinics or shelters, or performed home repairs and installations.4


Source:
Gilchrist J, Gotsch K, Annest JL. Nonfatal dog bite-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments- United States, 2001. MMWR; 52: 605-610.http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5226a1.htm

An additional study by Sacks et al., examined data comes from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention's Injury Control and Risk Survey (ICARIS), a national telephone survey designed to assess a wide range of injury risk factors and injuries. Data obtained in 1994 from 5,238 randomly dialed households was weighted to provide national dog bite estimates, and showed that there an approximately 4,494,083 total dog bites (18 per 1000) in 1994. Of those persons in all age groups who were bitten, 756,701 required medical attention (3 per 1000), and children sustained 3.2 times higher bite rates that required medical attention than adults (6.4 per 1000 v. 2 per 1000). Limitations to the ICARIS data include the long recall time (one year), the low response rate (56%) and the self-reported nature of the data.5

A study based on another national probability sample, The National Center for Health Statistics National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, reached similar conclusions about dog bites. Weiss et al., examined dog bite data from1992 to 1994 in order to describe the incidence and characteristics of dog bite injuries treated in US emergency departments. The researchers found that for every dog bite fatality there were 670 hospitalizations, 16,000 emergency department visits, 21,000 other medical visits, and 3.73 million non-medically treated dog bites. The researchers also found that males were more likely than females to be bitten, children had the highest rate for emergency department visits for dog bites, and young children were more likely than adults to be bitten on the head, neck or face.6

A comparison of similar data is required to detect a trend in dog bite injuries over time. Sossin et al. determined that in 1986, nonfatal dog bites resulted in an estimated 585,000 injuries that required medical attention or restricted activity.7 By 1995, dog bites caused an estimated 800,000 injuries that required medical care.6 This is a 36% increase in medically attended bites between 1986 and 1995. (Photo: http://www.2keller.com/dogbiteresources.html)

The NEISS-AIP data included the following narrative comments from the medical records that described common dog bite scenarios:

  • “A girl aged 18 months who was attacked by the family dog in the backyard and sustained an open depressed skull fracture, mandible fractures, and avulsion of an ear and part of a cheek.”
  • “A boy aged 4 years was bitten on the lip by a dog that was guarding her pups.”
  • “A girl aged 3 years was bitten on the face when trying to take food away from the family dog.”
  • “A man aged 34 years sustained an avulsion laceration to his left thumb while trying to break up a fight between his dogs.”
  • “A woman aged 75 years was bitten while she was trying to prevent her dog from attacking an Emergency Medical Technician who was attempting to transport her from her home by ambulance.”4

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