What is the prognosis of animal bite wounds?

Updated: Sep 18, 2018
  • Author: Alisha Perkins Garth, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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The prognosis of patients with animal bite wounds is generally excellent.

Dog-bite related deaths range from 20-35 in the United States each year [12, 11, 15] with a 0.5% dog-bite related in-hospital mortality rate. [3] Factors contributing to these fatalities have been reviewed and most commonly include the following [16] :

  • No able-bodied person present to intervene

  • The victim having no familiar relationship with the animal

  • Owners failing to neuter/spay the animal

  • Victim's compromised ability (age or physical condition)

  • Animal kept not as a pet (kept in isolation or away from interaction with people)

  • Prior mismanagement and abuse or neglect of the animal

While local infection and cellulitis are the leading causes of morbidity, sepsis is a potential complication of bite wounds, particularly C canimorsus (DF-2) sepsis in immunocompromised individuals. Pasteurella multocida infection (the most common infection contracted from cat bites) also may be complicated by sepsis. Meningitis, osteomyelitis, tenosynovitis, abscesses, pneumonia, endocarditis, and septic arthritis are additional concerns in bite wounds. When rabies occurs, it is almost uniformly fatal (see Rabies).

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