Animal and human bites are a common problem in the United States, and approximately half of all Americans will be bitten by an animal or another human during their lifetime. Caring for patients with animal or human bites focuses on treating the acute traumatic injuries and preventing the potential infectious complications.
Dog bites account for 80–90% of all bites seen in emergency departments. Accurate statistics on dog bite injuries are difficult to obtain because the majority of victims do not seek medical attention. Dog bites account for 0.3–1.1% of all emergency visits. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) estimates that in 2001 there were 368,245 people who were treated in U.S. emergency departments for dog-bite related injuries – a rate of 129.3 per 100,000. Of the victims, 42% were younger than 14 years, with the highest injury rate seen in boys between the ages of 5 and 9 years. There are approximately 20 deaths each year in the United States as a result of dog attacks.
Dog bites occur more often during the summer, on weekends, and in the afternoon. Most dog bites are committed by younger dogs and larger breeds such as Rottweilers, pit bulls, Huskies, and German shepherds. The victim often knows the animal and the majority of attacks are provoked.