Over a year swabs were taken from 87 untreated bite wounds in dogs seen by veterinary practitioners in Harare, Zimbabwe. Swabs were also taken from normal skin adjacent to the wound site, and gingival swabs were collected from normal dogs coming to the same clinics. The swabs were cultured aerobically for pathogens, particularly Staphylococcus intermedius, and the antibiotic sensitivities of the pathogens were determined by disc diffusion assay. The most common pathogens isolated from the wounds were S intermedius (23 per cent), Escherichia coli (18 per cent) and non-lactose-fermenting coliforms (14 per cent). S intermedius was common on the normal skin of the dogs with infected wounds, and was associated with wounds on the abdomen, hindlimbs and tail and wounds that were more than three days old. This organism was, however, isolated only infrequently from the gums and there was little correlation in general between the prevalence of pathogens in the mouth and their prevalence in wounds. Of the S intermedius isolates from wounds, 30 per cent were resistant to penicillin and multiple antibiotic resistance was common among the enterobacterial isolates. The majority of the pathogens were sensitive to cotrimoxazole.
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