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Bite, Animal

Bite, Animal is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Most bites are from provoked animals.
  • Dog bite wounds:
    • Large dogs inflict the most serious wounds (pit bulls cause the most human fatalities).
    • Most fatalities in children (70%) due to bites to face/neck
    • Dogs of family or friends account for most bites.
  • Cat bite wounds:
    • Majority from pets known to victim
    • 50% infection rate in those seeking care
    • Puncture wounds most frequent due to sharp thin teeth causing deep inoculation of bacteria
  • Catscratch disease (CSD):
    • 3 of the following 4 criteria:
      • Cat contact, with presence of scratch or inoculation lesion of the skin, eye, or mucous membrane
      • Positive CSD skin test result
      • Characteristic lymph node histopathology
      • Negative results of lab studies for other causes of lymphadenopathy
  • Rat bite wounds:
    • Occur in lab personnel or children of low socioeconomic class
    • Rat-bite fever (RBF), rare in US but high mortality rate
    • Rat bites rarely transmit rabies, and prophylaxis not routine


  • Dog and cat bites:
    • Pasteurella multocida is the major organism in both:
      • Twice as likely to be found in cat bites than dog bites
      • Gram-negative aerobe found in up to 80% of cat infections
      • Infection appears in <24 hr
    • Staphylococcus or Streptococcus:
      • Infection appears in >24 hr
    • Other organisms include anaerobes and Capnocytophaga canimorsus (dogs).
  • Catscratch disease:
    • Caused by Bartonella henselae
  • Rat bites:
    • Caused by Spirillum minus and Streptobacillus moniliformis (RBF)

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Bite, Animal." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307086/all/Bite__Animal.
Bite, Animal. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307086/all/Bite__Animal. Accessed April 24, 2019.
Bite, Animal. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307086/all/Bite__Animal
Bite, Animal [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 24]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307086/all/Bite__Animal.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Bite, Animal ID - 307086 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307086/all/Bite__Animal PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -