Increased incidence of dog-bite injuries after the Fukushima nuclear accident

Prev Med. 2013 Oct;57(4):363-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.06.013. Epub 2013 Jun 18.


Objective: The objective of this study is to assess the localized incidence of dog bites following the nuclear accident related to the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.

Methods: We identified the patients with dog bites in our hospital in Minamisoma City, Fukushima, during the period from 1year prior to the earthquake to 3.5months following it, and calculated the monthly and weekly incidence proportions by dividing the patient number by the total emergency room visits. We also analyzed the data by the characteristics of the patients.

Results: We identified 27 dog-bite cases during the post-disaster period. The median monthly incidence proportion during the pre-disaster period and the highest monthly incidence proportion during the post-disaster period were 0.21 and 6.50 per 100 visits, respectively. The weekly incidence proportion peaked at 3weeks after the earthquake and thereafter decreased to the baseline level.

Conclusion: The Fukushima nuclear accident may be associated with an increased incidence of dog bites, and the prolonged evacuation in response to the radiation contamination may have prolonged the increased incidence after the disaster. Physicians and local residents should recognize this potential hazard. Countermeasures to contend with this risk should be a mandatory aspect of disaster preparedness, including for nuclear accidents.

Keywords: Animal bite; Disaster medicine; Natural disaster.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Fukushima Nuclear Accident*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult