Original Article

National Estimates of Noncanine Bite and Sting Injuries Treated in US Hospital Emergency Departments, 2011–2015

Authors: Dariusz Hareza, MD, Ricky Langley, MD, PhD, Marilyn Goss Haskell, DVM, MPH, Katherine King, MPH


Objectives: Injuries resulting from contact with animals are a significant public health concern. This study quantifies and updates nonfatal bite and sting injuries by noncanine sources using the most recent data available (2011–2015) from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program with the purpose of using these updates to better understand public health consequences and prevention techniques. Increased rates of bites and stings can be expected in this study’s time frame, possibly caused by the increasing human population expanding into animal territories, as well as changes in animal geographic distribution and pet ownership.

Methods: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program is an ongoing nationally representative surveillance system used to monitor all types and causes of injuries treated in US hospital emergency departments (EDs). Cases were coded by trained hospital coders using information from medical records on animal sources of bite and sting injuries being treated. Data from 2011–2015 were weighted to produce national annualized estimates, percentages, and rates based on the US population.

Results: An estimated 1.17 million people visited EDs for noncanine bite and sting injuries annually. This translates to a rate of 371.3/100,000 people. Insects accounted for 71.0% of noncanine bite and sting injuries, followed by arachnids (19.2%) and mammals (7.8%). The estimated annual total lifetime medical and work cost of unintentional noncanine injuries was $5,755,581,000.

Conclusions: Various sources of bite and sting injuries had an outsized effect on injury rates and identify potential areas of focus for education and prevention programs to reduce the burden of these injuries on health and healthcare costs. The study describes the diversity of animal exposures based on a national sample of EDs. Noncanine bite and sting injuries significantly affect public health and healthcare resources. Priorities can be focused on animal sources with the most impact on bite and sting injury rates, healthcare costs, and disease burden.


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