Dog bites in children: epidemiology, microbiology, and penicillin prophylactic therapy

Am J Emerg Med. 1983 Jul;1(1):17-21. doi: 10.1016/0735-6757(83)90032-3.


Fifty-five children with nonfacial dog bites were prospectively studied. Patients were assigned to an experimental group receiving oral penicillin or a control group receiving local wound care only. Wounds were cultured for anaerobic and aerobic flora prior to cleansing. Results showed that most children were bitten on an extremity by a familiar dog, sustained simple injuries, and sought prompt medical attention. The overall infection rate was 3.6%, with one patient in each group developing an infection. The most frequently recovered organisms were normal skin flora. No Pasteurella multocida were isolated. Forty percent of cultures yielded potential pathogens. Despite this finding, initial cultures of dog bite wounds had no value in predicting subsequent infection. This study suggests that routine use of prophylactic penicillin is not required for simple nonfacial dog bites in children.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Bites and Stings / drug therapy*
  • Bites and Stings / microbiology
  • Bites and Stings / therapy
  • Child
  • Dogs*
  • Emergencies*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Humans
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies


  • Penicillins