Context.— Dog bites that result in injuries occur frequently, but how frequently
dog bite injuries necessitate medical attention at a hospital or hospital
admission is unknown.
Objective.— To describe the incidence and characteristics of dog bite injuries treated
in US emergency departments (EDs).
Design.— Emergency department survey from the National Center for Health Statistics
National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for 1992 to 1994.
Patients.— National probability sample of patients visiting EDs.
Main Outcome Measure.— Incidence of dog bites treated in EDs, defined as a cause of injury
recorded as the E-code E906.0.
Results.— The 3-year annualized, adjusted, and weighted estimate of new dog bite–related
injury visits to US EDs was 333687, a rate of 12.9 per 10000 persons (95%
confidence interval [CI], 10.5-15.4). This represents approximately 914 new
dog bite injuries requiring ED visits per day. The median age of patients
bitten was 15 years, with children, especially boys aged 5 to 9 years, having
the highest incidence rate (60.7 per 10000 persons for boys aged 5 to 9 years).
Children seen in EDs were more likely than older persons to be bitten on the
face, neck, and head (73% vs 30%). We estimated that for each US dog bite
fatality there are about 670 hospitalizations and 16000 ED visits.
Conclusions.— Dog bite injuries are an important source of injury in the US population,
especially among children. Improved surveillance and prevention of dog bite–related
injuries, particularly among children, are needed.