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Dog bite injuries: primary and secondary emergency department presentations--a retrospective cohort study.

UNLABELLED: Dog bites in humans are a complex problem, embracing both public health and animal welfare. The primary aim of this study is to examine primary and secondary presentations related to dog bite injuries in adults.

METHODS: We retrospectively assessed all adult patients admitted with a dog bite injury to the Emergency Department of Bern University Hospital.

RESULTS: A total of 431 patients were eligible for the study. Forty-nine (11.4%) of all patients were admitted with secondary presentations. Bites to the hands were most common (177, 41.1%). All patients (47, 100%) with secondary presentations were admitted because of signs of infection. The median time since the dog bite was 3.8 days (SD 3.9, range 1-21). Thirty-one patients had already been treated with antibiotic; coamoxicillin was the most common primary antibiotic therapy (27/47 patients, 57.4%). Patients with injuries to the hand were at increased risk of secondary presentations (OR 2.08, 95% CI 1.21-3.55, P < 0.006).

CONCLUSION: Dog bite injuries to the hands are a major problem. They often lead to infectious complications. Immediate antibiotic therapy should carefully be evaluated for each patient.

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