Bite wounds are among the commonest types of trauma to which man is the subject. They account for 5 % of the total traumatic wounds evaluated in the emergency department (ED) and approximately 1 % of all the ED visits. Early estimation of infection risk, adequate antibiotic therapy and if indicated surgical treatment are the cornerstones of successful cure of bite wounds.
A total of 5248 consecutive trauma patients were collected prospectively and analysed retrospectively over a period of 15 years in this study at a level I trauma centre, Department of Trauma Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.
The mean age was 33.8 years (range 0–97), 2620 (49.9 %) were male and 2628 (50.1 %) were female individuals. In our study population, a total of 2530 dog bites (48.2 %), 930 cat bites (17.8 %), 357 other animal bites (6.8 %), 426 human bites (8.1 %) and 1005 human self-bites (19.2 %) have been observed. A total of 995 wounds (19.0 %) have been infected. Surgery was done in 132 wounds (2.5 %).
We could show a six times higher infection rate of cat bites compared to dog bites. Human bites showed a total infection rate of 8.2 %. Observed infection rate of puncture wounds and wounds greater than 3 cm was 1.5 times higher than for all other wounds in the present study. Total infection rates within 24 h to antibiotic administration was 29.3 %, compared to 65.0 % < 48 h and 81.1 % < 72 h. Time interval also influenced the overall outcome showing a 2.6 increase in acceptable and 1.3 increase in poor outcome after 72 h.