To describe the clinical and epidemiologic features of persons with dog and cat bite injuries who presented to emergency departments.
Records of 648,492 dog and cat bite–related emergency department visits in California from 2005 to 2019.
Visits were selected by standardized International Classification of Diseases, Ninth or Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification codes that indicated a bite as an external cause of injury in the medical record. Incidence rates were calculated for patient demographics, location and month of bite incident, characteristics of bite injury, infection, patient outcome/disposition, and expected source of payment. Cross-sectional descriptive analysis was performed.
The average annual incidence of dog bites was highest in children aged < 10 years and males, while that of cat bites was highest in adults aged ≥ 80 years and females. Bites were more likely to occur in rural settings, in private residences, and during the summer. The median household income for zip codes in which animal bite patients resided was lower than the statewide median household income. Both dog and cat bite injuries were more likely to occur to upper limbs. Bacteria were isolated from 3% of dog bite injuries and 21.5% of cat bite injuries at initial presentation.
Epidemiologic findings about persons presenting to emergency departments for animal bite injuries can inform bite prevention efforts by identifying at-risk populations. Effective animal bite prevention demands an ongoing multisectoral program of veterinarians and other health professionals, collaborating with community and governmental organizations, to develop and implement integrated strategies within the context of other socially contributory factors.