Epidemiology of animal exposures presenting to emergency departments

Acad Emerg Med. 2007 May;14(5):398-403. doi: 10.1197/j.aem.2006.12.012. Epub 2007 Mar 16.


Objectives: To describe the epidemiology of emergency department mammalian animal exposures and to compare adult and pediatric exposure characteristics.

Methods: This was a prospective case series of patients presenting with animal exposure-related complaints from July 1996 to July 1998. Eleven university-affiliated, geographically diverse, urban emergency departments (EMERGEncy ID NET) participated.

Results: A total of 1,631 exposures (80.5%) were from dogs, 267 (13.2%) from cats, 88 (4.3%) from rodents or rabbits, 18 (0.9%) from raccoons and wild carnivores, eight (0.4%) from livestock, nine (0.4%) from monkeys, and five (0.2%) from bats. Compared with adults, children were more likely to be bitten by dogs (odds ratio [OR], 2.9; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.2 to 3.8) or hamsters, gerbils, and rabbits (OR, 2.6; 95% CI = 0.79 to 9.2); to be bitten on the head, neck, or face (OR, 6.7; 95% CI = 5.2 to 8.6); and to be petting or playing with the animal at the time of exposure (OR, 2.6; 95% CI = 2.1 to 3.3).

Conclusions: Animal exposures are a common source of injury seen in the emergency department. These findings have potentially important public health implications in terms of emphasizing the need to effectively implement education programs for parents and children.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population