oa Wound Healing Southern Africa - Dog bites to the head, neck and face in children : original research

Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1998-8885
  • E-ISSN: 2076-8893



Dog bites are a poorly understood and complex public health problem. Children are most frequently the victims of dog bites and the face is often the favoured target. A review of dog bite wounds in small children presenting to the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital was carried out over a period of 13.5 years (1991-2004). One thousand eight hundred and seventy-one dog bite wounds were admitted from a total of 125,677 patients treated. From 1,871 patients presenting with dog bite injuries, we identified 596 children who sustained injuries to the head, face or neck. Dog bites to the head, face or neck were responsible for 0.5% of all trauma unit presentations and 32% of all dog bite injuries. The mean age of the children was 5.1 years. Male children accounted for 68% of the patients. The peak incidence was noted in children aged 2 to 4 years old. One hundred and seventy-two (29%) bites occurred between the summer months of December and February. Two hundred and forty-nine (42%) patients presented to hospital between the hours of 12:00 and 18:00 hours and 275 (46%) children presented between 18:00 and 0:00 hours. A large proportion of all attacks occurred either inside or outside the victim's own home and at the home of friends or family. Superficial injuries were treated with wound cleaning, suturing and dressing. There were no fatalities. Dog bites are relatively common in small children, but do not represent a major cause of morbidity and mortality.

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