Nonfatal dog bite-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments – United States, 2001

To best understand this article in the context of the literature on growling, snarling, snapping, and biting behavior (incidence and correlates), please see National Canine Research Council’s complete analysis here.

Article citation:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2003). Nonfatal Dog Bite-Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments – United States, 2001. MMWR; 52: 605-610.

National Canine Research Council Summary and Analysis:

To estimate the number of injurious and severely injurious dog bites in the U.S., the CDC analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP). This is an ongoing system of injury data collection from emergency departments (ED’s) across the country, unlike Sacks et al. (1996) and Gilchrist et al. (2008), which were based on telephone surveys of individuals. This CDC report was generated from this ongoing system of recording ED admission across the country to track injuries of various causes. While NEISS cannot capture injuries treated at medical facilities other than ED’s, it has the very great virtue of being a large, standardized, consistently maintained source of data. This particular report (covering 2001), yielded an estimated 368,245 “persons who were treated for dog bite related injuries.” more than 98% of people affected were treated and released, indicating that their injuries were minor or very minor. That is a very low rate of 1.8% of bites being severely injurious. Per capita rates were higher for children under 14 but they represented less than half the treated bites overall. (The source of this data can be freely accessed on the CDC’s website for any year from 2001 to the present and is an invaluable source for determining whether there have been changes in incidence rates.) The authors of this report conclude by making various recommendations regarding safe interactions with dogs and suspect that factors such as canine health, socialization, training, and education may be more useful than breed-specific legislation for reducing the number of dog bites. Specifically, they advocate for education and responsible pet ownership to reduce dog bite incidence. However, it should be noted that the study itself includes no data related to causal factors.

Link to Original Report: