Demographics and management of dog bite victims at a level two hospital in KwaZulu-Natal

Samuel J W Kent, Bavani Naicker, Darryl R Wood


Introduction. Dog bites are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, particularly where rabies is endemic. There is also a significant financial burden attached to prophylactic treatment to diminish the risk of rabies infection. KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has a high incidence of human rabies yet little is known about the demographics of dog bites in the province.

Objectives. To analyse the demographics of dog bites in Northern KZN.

Methods. Records of all dog bites presenting to the main referral hospital in Northern KZN between August 2007 and September 2011 were analysed.

Results. We collected data for 821 instances of dog bite. Male children aged 6 - 10 years are most likely to present with dog bites, while women >40 years are more likely to present than men in the same age bracket. Whilst initial vaccine administration is high (98%) with all grades of bite, only 82% of grade 3 bites receive immunoglobulin.

Conclusion. Our results correlate well with two large studies of the demographics of dog bites, but are the first to show a reverse in male preponderance of presentations above the age of 40 years. Reasons for low rates of immunoglobulin administration in grade 3 bites are discussed. Finally, methods are suggested to improve data collection and the care of patients presenting with dog bites.

Authors' affiliations

Samuel J W Kent, Ngwelezane Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal

Bavani Naicker, Ngwelezane Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal

Darryl R Wood, Ngwelezane Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal

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Rabies; Dog bites; Epidemiology

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2012;102(11):845-847. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.5934

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-05-02
Date published: 2012-10-08

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