Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  About  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms

Hand Injuries from Human and Animal Teeth Bites

  • Published: 2015-01-05 (Revised/Updated 2016-03-26) : American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (www.aaos.org).
  • Synopsis: Outlines the potential medical complications of human and animal bites to the hand.

Main Document

Quote: "All patients with hand bites should receive antibiotic treatment, which can lower the infection rate from an average of 28 percent to 2 percent."

Hand injuries are frequently caused by human and animal bites, prompting as many as 330,000 emergency department visits in the United States each year. A literature review appearing in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) outlines the potential complications of human and animal bites to the hand, the importance of early injury assessment, and the use of antibiotic and other treatment methods to avoid infection, permanent disability, and amputation.

"Although many people may be reluctant to immediately go to a doctor, all bites to the hand should receive medical care," said orthopaedic surgeon and lead study author Stephen A. Kennedy, MD. "And while routine antibiotics are not necessarily recommended for other bite wounds, they are recommended for a bite to the hand to reduce the risk of infection and disability."

Human bites to the hand - while accounting for only two to three percent of all hand bite injuries - can occur during altercations and include wounds caused by punching type contact with the mouth or teeth, domestic abuse, or accidentally during sports, play, or other activities. Human bites to the fingers and hand that penetrate through the skin can transmit infection through oral flora, or saliva, which contains more than 600 bacterial species.

Animals also have saliva containing a broad range of bacteria. Adult dog jaws, especially among larger breeds, are capable of exerting a bite force of more than 300 pounds, and when combined with the variety and sharpness of their teeth - designed to clamp, hold, tear, and crush food - can cause significant injuries to hand and finger ligaments, tendons, and bones. Cats do not have the jaw strength of dogs; however, their sharp, narrow teeth also can cause serious injury. An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of cat bites are complicated by infections, which can occur as early as three hours after injury in approximately 50 percent of the infection cases. Infections due to dog bites typically occur at less than half the rate of cat bites.

By the numbers:

If a hand-to-mouth injury or bite occurs:

Prompt treatment, ideally within 24 hours of an animal or human bite, can prevent serious injury or infection:

Disclosures. From the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. None of the following authors or any immediate family member has received anything of value from or has stock or stock options held in a commercial company or institution related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article: Dr. Kennedy, Dr. Stoll, and Dr. Lauder.

J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2015; 23: 1-11: dx.doi.org/10.5435/JAAOS-23-01-47.

Similar Topics

1 : Tips to Cure a Yeast Infection : Helen Bayer.
2 : Does Smoking Make You Look Older : Romeo Morales, M.D., F.A.A.D..
3 : Candidiasis Fungal Infection Must be Treated Early : Infectious Diseases Society of America.
4 : Hospital Hand Washing Leads to Rise in Dermatitis : University of Manchester.
5 : Hand Injuries from Human and Animal Teeth Bites : American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
From our Dermatology section - Full List (17 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Protein Levels in Spinal Fluid Correlate to Posture and Gait Difficulty in Parkinson's Disease
2 : Palliative Care Findings on Caregiver Depression, LGBT Partners, Moral Distress
3 : Circulation Journal's Go Red for Women Issue Focuses on Female Heart Health
4 : Wearable Stretchable Electronics Aid Stroke Recovery Treatment

Citation


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.