Incidence of dog bites in Milwaukee, wis

Wis Med J. 1996 Apr;95(4):237-41.


Dogs are everywhere. The incidence of and injuries caused by dog bites have grown to such epidemic proportions in certain parts of the United States that they are now considered a major public health concern. Playful Rover is no longer a harmless pet. Uncontrolled, he now can be considered a public nuisance. In this study, we evaluated the epidemiology of dog bites recorded in Milwaukee, for calendar years 1989-1991. This assessment included anatomical location of bites, victims' ages, behavioral antecedents, leading up to the bite incidents, season of the year, and animal ownership. The evaluation also measured the correlation coefficient between the frequency of dog bite incidents and median household income distribution within the city. During the 3-year period, a total of 3,926 animal bites, including 3,244 (83%) dog bites, were reported to the City of Milwaukee Department of Health. Of all the dog bites reported, 60% were on the upper extremities. Children less than 15 years old sustained 44% of the injuries, mostly to the head and face. Provocation by the victim accounted for 19% of the cases. The majority of the incidents (67%) occurred during the spring and summer months. In 49% of all cases, the victims families or neighbors owned the animals involved in the biting. Researchers also observed a significant negative correlation between bites and median household income distribution. Study results suggest a need to educate the public about the magnitude of dog-bite problems, enforce leash laws and impound stray dogs as an integral part of prevention programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Bites and Stings / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology