Occurrence and distribution of dog bites in El Paso County, Texas, 2009-2011

Eduardo Davila, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Objective: To describe patterns and distributions in the occurrence of dog bite incidents in El Paso County. The data analyzed consisted of reports submitted to the City of El Paso Animal Services Division during the years 2009-2011. Methods: The authors reviewed the dog bite reports received by the City of El Paso Animal Services for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011. The reports are limited to incidents involving domestic dogs, (Canis familiaris), which resulted in skin breaks, and occurring within the limits of El Paso County and its municipalities. The authors, organized the data by person, time and place, and calculated and compared rates of dog bites by populations at risk. Results: There were 2,892 dog bites reported during 2009-2011 for a rate of 120 dog bites per 100,000 persons-years. Forty-percent of the bites were to the upper extremities, and 6.7% were classified as severe. The risk of dog bites to children was twice that of older adults. Dog bites seem to occur disproportionately at 8 am. Seventy five (75%) percent of the bites were from dogs without documented vaccination status and therefore considered unvaccinated against rabies. Seventeen census tracts experienced rates at least twice the incidence of dog bites. Conclusion: We found that most of the dog-biting dogs were unvaccinated. Reports of canine rabies in neighboring Mexico call for the increase of dog rabies vaccination. High-risk areas were identified and could be targeted for preventive interventions. Although Animal Services data severely underestimates the incidence of dog bites, it is sensitive to detect patterns of occurrence and is readily available for local decision-making.

Subject Area

Behavioral Sciences|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Davila, Eduardo, "Occurrence and distribution of dog bites in El Paso County, Texas, 2009-2011" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1549594.