Role of anaerobic bacteria in bite-wound infections

Rev Infect Dis. Mar-Apr 1984;6 Suppl 1:S177-83. doi: 10.1093/clinids/6.supplement_1.s177.


The etiologic agents usually involved in wound infections due to human or animal bites are the aerobic skin flora of the victim, e.g., Staphylococcus aureus, and/or the aerobic oral flora of the biter, e.g., Pasteurella multocida. While anaerobic bacteria are predominant in the normal oral flora of humans and animals, their importance in the pathogenesis of bite-wound infections has not been stressed. Most investigators in this field have either not cultured these wounds for anaerobic bacteria or not utilized optimal culture techniques. In a series of studies on human and animal bite wounds, methods that are optimal for recovery of anaerobic bacteria were used. Anaerobes were found in significant quantities in 39% of animal bite wounds, 50% of human bite wounds, and 56% of clenched-fist injuries. Several species of anaerobes usually were present in the wounds and always were present in mixed culture with aerobic oral flora. The anaerobes most commonly isolated included Bacteroides asaccharolyticus, Bacteroides bivius, Bacteroides disiens, Bacteroides melaninogenicus, Bacteroides oralis, Bacteroides ruminicola, Bacteroides pneumosintes, Bacteroides ureolyticus, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Fusobacterium russii, Peptococcus species, Peptostreptococcus species, and Veillonella species. Initial, empiric antimicrobial therapy for bite wounds should be directed against potential anaerobic as well as aerobic pathogens.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Bacteroides / isolation & purification
  • Bites and Stings / microbiology*
  • Bites, Human / microbiology
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Fusobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peptococcaceae / isolation & purification
  • Sciuridae
  • Veillonella / isolation & purification
  • Wound Infection / microbiology*