Clinical features and management of animal bites in an emergency department: a single-center experience

Aydin O., GÖKER E. T., Arslan Z. A., Sert H. M., TEKŞAM Ö.

POSTGRADUATE MEDICINE, vol.135, pp.31-37, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 135
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00325481.2022.2124089
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EBSCO Education Source, Educational research abstracts (ERA), EMBASE, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.31-37
  • Keywords: Animal bites, cat, dog, emergency department, horse, rabies, FATAL DOG ATTACKS, RABIES PROPHYLAXIS, CHILDREN, INJURIES, WOUNDS
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Objectives This study aimed to evaluate the clinical features, management, and outcomes of patients with animal bites presented to the pediatric emergency department of a tertiary center. Methods Patients with ICD-10 code W54 (contact with dog) and W55 (contact with other mammals) between March 1(st), 2017, and July 1(st), 2021, were included in the study. Demographic characteristics of the patients, type of contacted animal, wound characteristics (muscle involvement, soft tissue defect, vascular injury, type of nerve injury, and Lackmann's classification), wound care measurements, tetanus prophylaxis, administration of rabies immunoglobulin and antibiotics, location of the injury, existing fractures, suturing, splinting, surgical consultations and hospitalization status were recorded. Results Four hundred and nineteen incidents of animal bites (240 males and 179 females) occurred over a four-year period. 51% was due to a dog bite; 47% was by a cat. The median age was nine years (IQR: 5-14 years). Most bites (91.6%) involved only a single anatomical site. The extremities were the commonly involved part (right upper limb [35.3%], left upper limb [21.2%], right lower limb [12.6%], left lower limb [16%]). Head-neck and face injury ratio was 17.6%. Torso (5.7%) and genitalia (5.2%) were uncommonly involved. A consultation was requested from at least one surgical department for 8% of the patients. 97.1% of patients received a rabies vaccine. Most attacks were trivial and did not require hospitalization. Conclusion Animal bites often cause minor injuries. However, multiple dog attacks can be seen related to a high number of stray animals in our country. Therefore, these patients may present with major traumas. Surgical intervention and hospitalization may be required. Emergency physicians play an essential role in acute management and rabies prophylaxis in these patients.