The epidemiology of dog bite injuries in Switzerland – characteristics of victims, biting dogs and circumstances

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Dogs are a potential source of several health hazards for humans. Public attention has recently focussed on dog bites, and different prevention strategies have been suggested. As few data on dog bite epidemiology are available, a prospective study was conducted in family practices (FP) and emergency departments (ED) in Switzerland. The objectives of this study were to estimate the incidence of dog bites receiving medical treatment and to identify possible risk factors. An annual dog bite incidence rate of 180/100 000 population was estimated. The highest incidence rates were found in children, young adults and dog owners. While head and neck injuries were most common (37% of FP and 45% of ED cases) amongst children and these tended to have more severe sequelae, adults' injuries most commonly involved the extremities. Victim–dog interactions prior to the incident often were observed in children, particularly in infants (82% of 0–4-year-old cases) and in family dog bites (88%). Biting dogs were most commonly medium or large in size, male, and aged < 5 years. The three most popular breeds (Shepherd, Retriever Dogs and Swiss Mountain Breeds) also were the three most common biters. However, Shepherd dogs and Rottweilers were more common among biting dogs. No difference in bite risk was found between pure-bred and cross-bred dogs. Results of this study suggest that dog bites are a common event in the community. A multifactorial approach to dog bite prevention is recommended.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Anthrozoos is the journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology and is a vital forum for academic dialogue on human-animal relations. It is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that has enjoyed a distinguished history as a pioneer in the field since its launch in 1987. The key premise of Anthrozoos is to address the characteristics and consequences of interactions and relationships between people and non-human animals across areas as varied as anthropology, ethology, medicine, psychology, veterinary medicine and zoology. Articles therefore cover the full range of human animal relations, from their treatment in the arts and humanities, through to behavioral, biological, social and health sciences..

    Fast Track articles are uncorrected proofs of articles that have yet to be published in an issue.

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