Dog Bites: Still a Problem?

Inj Prev. 2008 Oct;14(5):296-301. doi: 10.1136/ip.2007.016220.

Abstract

Objective: To estimate the incidence of dog bites in the USA and compare it with similar estimates from 1994.

Design: Nationally representative cross-sectional, list-assisted, random-digit-dialed telephone survey conducted during 2001-2003.

Methods: Weighted estimates were generated from data collected by surveying 9684 households during 2001-2003 and compared with results from a similar survey conducted in 1994. Estimates for persons aged 15-17 years were extrapolated on the basis of rates for 10-14-year-olds.

Results: Whereas the incidence of dog bites among adults remained relatively unchanged, there was a significant (47%) decline in the incidence of dog bites among children compared with that observed in the 1994 survey, particularly among boys and among those aged 0-4 years. Between 2001 and 2003, an estimated 4 521 300 persons were bitten each year. Of these, 885 000 required medical attention (19%). Children were more likely than adults to receive medical attention for a dog bite. Among adults, bite rates decreased with increasing age. Among children and adults, having a dog in the household was associated with a significantly increased incidence of dog bites, with increasing incidence also related to increasing numbers of dogs.

Conclusions: Dog bites continue to be a public health problem affecting 1.5% of the US population annually. Although comparison with similar data from 1994 suggests that bite rates for children are decreasing, there still appears to be a need for effective prevention programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Bites and Stings / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult