Microbiology and management of human and animal bite wound infections

Prim Care. 2003 Mar;30(1):25-39, v. doi: 10.1016/s0095-4543(02)00056-8.


This article describes the microbiology, diagnosis, and management of human and animal bite wound infections. Various organisms can be recovered from bite wounds that generally result from aerobic and anaerobic microbial flora of the oral cavity of the biting animal, rather than the victim's own skin flora. The role of anaerobes in bite wound infections has been increasingly appreciated. Anaerobes were isolated from more than two thirds of human and animal bite wound infections, especially those associated with abscess formation. This article describes several of the organisms found in the bites of various species. In addition to local wound infection, other complications may occur, including lymphangitis, local abscess, septic arthritis, tenosynovitis, and osteomyelitis. Rare complications include endocarditis, meningitis, brain abscess, and sepsis with disseminated intravascular coagulation, especially in immunocompromised individuals. Wound management includes the administration of proper local care and the use of proper antimicrobial agents when needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / microbiology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Infectious / microbiology
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / isolation & purification*
  • Bites and Stings / complications
  • Bites and Stings / microbiology*
  • Bites and Stings / therapy*
  • Bites, Human / microbiology
  • Bites, Human / therapy
  • Humans
  • Lymphangitis / microbiology
  • Osteomyelitis / microbiology
  • Tenosynovitis / microbiology
  • Wound Infection / etiology
  • Wound Infection / microbiology*
  • Wound Infection / therapy*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents