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A comparison of dog bite injuries in younger and older children treated in a pediatric emergency department

By L. M. Bernardo, M. J. Gardner, R. L. Rosenfield, B. Cohen, R. Pitetti

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Objective: Dog bites account for a significant number of traumatic injuries in the paediatric population that often require medical treatment. Although agent, host, and environmental characteristics of dog bites have been well documented, no attempt has been made to compare these characteristics by patient age group. The purpose of this study is to determine if differences exist in agent, host, and environmental characteristics among younger (<=6 y) and older (>7 y) patients treated in a paediatric emergency department (ED) for dog bites. Findings from our study could be used to develop age-specific strategies for dog bite prevention. Theoretical Framework: The epidemiologic triad of agent/host/environment formed the theoretical framework. Methods: The study setting was the ED at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Patients were enrolled between 1999 and 2000 and were identified through a review of ED records (n=386) of children sustaining dog bites. Records were abstracted with a researcher-designed and validated form for agent (eg, breed, number of biting dogs, owner, rabies status), host (eg, age, gender, number and location of bites, treatment), and environmental (eg, bite month and time, bite location, events leading to the bite, ZIP code) characteristics. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistical tests. Results: Children younger than 6 years constituted 52.8% (n=204) of the sample. As compared with older children, a higher proportion of younger children were bitten by their family dog ( chi 2=27.64, P=0.001) whose rabies shots were up to date ( chi 2=12.08, P=0.034). A higher proportion of younger children were bitten on the face ( chi 2=49.54, P=0.000) and were bitten in their own homes ( chi 2=16.075, P=0.013). Implications for Nursing Practice: Young children frequently sustain dog bites from their family dog in their own homes. Injuries typically involve severe lacerations to the face. Prevention strategies for young children include close supervision of child-dog interactions.

Date 2002
Publication Title Pediatric Emergency Care
Volume 18
Issue 3
Pages 247-249
ISBN/ISSN 0749-5161
DOI 10.1097/00006565-200206000-00024
Language English
Author Address University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Age
  2. Aggression
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  5. Bites and stings
  6. Carnivores
  7. Children
  8. Developed countries
  9. Diseases
  10. Dogs
  11. Epidemiology
  12. Humans
  13. Mammals
  14. North America
  15. OECD countries
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. Pennsylvania
  18. Pets and companion animals
  19. Primates
  20. trauma
  21. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed