On the Complexity of Shark Bite Wounds: From Associated Bacteria to Trauma Management and Wound Repair

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2018 Aug;85(2):398-405. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000001920.


The mouth of a shark is a breeding ground for a large variety of bacteria which can easily get transferred onto a human body in the event of a shark bite. Here, we review infections originating from shark oral bacterial flora, which originate from the microbiome of its prey, as well as from the surroundings where an incident takes place. We use the example of an incident which occurred in an aquarium involving a sandtiger shark, Carcharias taurus. In addition to a succinct analysis and interpretation of the wound and recovery process, an overview of currently known bacteria associated with shark bite wounds is given, as well as a summary of the effects of various previously tested antibiotics on bacteria derived from blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, bull sharks, C. leucas, and tiger sharks, Galeocerdo cuvier.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic study, level V.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Bites and Stings / surgery
  • Humans
  • Mouth / microbiology
  • Multiple Trauma*
  • Sharks*
  • Wound Infection / drug therapy
  • Wound Infection / microbiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents