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Special Articles: Review of Literature: General Infectious Diseases

Bacteriology of Human Bite Wound Infections

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Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice: January 2004 - Volume 12 - Issue 1 - p 76
doi: 10.1097/01.idc.0000104903.16995.a8
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Bacteriology of Human Bite Wound Infections

Merriam CV et al. Anaerobe. 2003;9:83

This is a report from 12 emergency rooms that collaborated to collect specimens from human bite wound infections for submission to the Alden Research Laboratory in Santa Monica, CA; specimens were cultured using the anaerobic expertise of that facility. There were 57 patients including 33 (58%) with clenched-fist injuries and 24 (42%) “traditional” bites. Of the 58 cases, 56 grew aerobes and 33 (58%) grew anaerobes. The average number of species/specimen was 3.9 for aerobes and 2.7 for anaerobes. The yield of anaerobes decreased with progressive delays in transport time. With regard to the organisms recovered, the major aerobes were streptococci, especially S. angiosus, and the major anaerobes were Prevotella, Fusobacterium, Peptostreptococcus, and Eubacteria. The results in the study are summarized in the table above.



The authors conclude that human bite wound infections commonly yield mixtures of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria from the normal flora of the human mouth.

Comment: This is the laboratory that produced the most frequently quoted paper on the bacteriology of cat and dog bites (NEJM. 1999;340:85 ). Both studies found the yield of anaerobes to be about 60%. However, the microbiology was quite different since the human bite wounds had a high yield of S. anginosus and no Pasteurella. The usual recommendation for treatment of these infections is Augmentin, and this seems like sage advice on the basis of the bacteriology reported.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.