Background Injuries due to encounters with animals can be serious, but are often discussed anecdotally or only for isolated types of encounters. We sought to characterize animal-related injuries presenting to US emergency departments (ED) to determine the impact of these types of injuries.
Methods All ED encounters with diagnosis codes corresponding to animal-related injury were identified using ICD-9-CM codes from the 2010 2014 National Emergency Department Sample (NEDS). Outcomes assessed included inpatient admission, mortality, and healthcare cost. Survey methodology was applied to univariate and multivariate analyses. Weighted numbers are presented.
Results There were 6 457 534 ED visits resulting from animal-related injuries identified. Bites from non-venomous arthropods (n=2 648 880; 41%), dog bites (n=1 658 295; 26%) and envenomation from hornets, wasps or bees (n=812 357; 13%) constitute the majority of encounters. There were 210 516 patients (3%) admitted as inpatients. Inpatient admission was most common for those suffering from venomous snakes or lizard bites (24%, n=10 332). Death was infrequent occurring in 1162 patients (0.02% of all ED presentations). The greatest number of deaths was due to bites from non-venomous arthropods (24% of deaths, n=278) whereas rat bites proved the most lethal (6.5 deaths per 10 000 bites). Among persons aged 85 years or greater, odds of hospital admission for any animal-related injury was 6.42 (95% CI 5.57 to 7.40) and the OR for death was 27.71 (95% CI 10.38 to 73.99). Female sex was associated with improved survival (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.73) and lower rates of hospital admission (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.75 to 0.79). The total healthcare cost for these animal encounters during the observed time period was $5.96 billion (95% CI $5.43 to $6.50 billion).
Conclusion The morbidity, mortality, and healthcare cost due to animal encounters in the USA is considerable. Often overlooked, this particular mechanism of injury warrants further public health prevention efforts.
Level of Evidence Level IV.
- animal attack
- animal encounter
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Contributors JDF and KS: writing, data analysis, data interpretation; JAF: writing, data interpretation; LT: data collection, data analysis.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional unpublished data are available.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.