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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

Abstract

DE KLERK, P; VAN DIJK, M  and  VAN AS, A B. Treatment and outcome of unusual animal bite injuries in young children. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2016, vol.106, n.2, pp.206-209. ISSN 2078-5135.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/SAMJ.2016.V106I2.10106.

BACKGROUND: Animal bites are a major cause of preventable traumatic injuries. OBJECTIVES: To provide more epidemiological information on animal bites, and assist in increasing awareness of the problem. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed including children aged >13 years presenting with bite injuries (excluding dog and human bites) to the trauma unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa, over a 25-year period. RESULTS: Two hundred and thirteen children were eligible to be entered into the study. The median age was 2.9 years (range 1.2 - 6.5), with boys slightly predominating (54.9%). Most (74.6%) of the bite injuries were inflicted by mammals, the majority (64.8) of mammalian bites being rat bites. The proportions of boys and girls in the age group 0 - 4 years bitten by rats significantly differed from the proportions in the age group >4 years (p=0.039). In the age group 0 - 4 years more girls suffered rat bites, while more boys were bitten in the age group >4 years. Of 91 rat bites, 81 (89.0%) occurred inside the house. The hands (43.9%) and the head/face/neck region (39.0%) were most affected. The underdeveloped suburbs of Philippi, Gugulethu and Khayelitsha in Cape Town represented a disproportionate number (41.6%) of rat bites. CONCLUSIONS: There is a relationship between poverty, unemployment, poor housing, informal settlements and rodent infestation. These high-risk populations need to be the target for government rat eradication programmes.

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