Contact with living things includes bites, stings and envenomation from animals, insects and plants, along with unintentional person-to-person contact—such as injuries from playing sport.

In 2018–19, contact with living things resulted in:

28,000 hospitalisations

110 per 100,000 population

 28 deaths

 0.1 per 100,000 population

This represents 5.1% of hospitalised injuries and 0.2% of injury deaths.

In medical coding terms, this topic includes both exposure to animate mechanical forces and contact with venomous animals and plants. In previous AIHW publications these were reported separately.

This category excludes injuries caused by intentional contact. For example, injuries and deaths caused by intentional harm is included under Assault and homicide.

Deaths in this category are relatively rare.

Types of contact that caused hospitalised injury

In 2018–19:

  • contact with non-venomous animals was the top cause (52%) of hospitalisations in this category (Table 1). Of these, half (51%) involved dogs (Table 2)
  • for cases involving venomous animals, the most common cause of hospitalisation (35%) was bees and wasps (Table 3).
Table 1: Most common causes of injury hospitalisations due to contact with living things, 2018–19

Cause

Number

%

Rate (per 100,000)

Contact with non-venomous animals (W53–59, W61)

14,422

52

57

Unintentional person-to-person contact (W50–52)

9,327

33

37

Contact with venomous animals and plants (X20-29)

3,537

13

14

Contact with plants (W60)

464

2

1.8

Other and unspecified (W64)

225

1

0.9

Total 27,975 100 111

Notes
1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population, calculated using estimated resident population as at 31 December of the relevant year.
2. Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
3. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (10th edition) external cause codes (ACCD 2017).
4. Person-to-person contact includes being hit, struck, kicked, twisted, bitten or scratched by another person, striking against or bumping into another person, and being crushed, pushed or stepped on by crowd or human stampede. Injuries involving a fall as a result of a collision with or pushing by another person are not included. See Falls.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Table 2: Non-venomous animals involved in injury hospitalisations, 2018–19

Type of animal

Number

%

Rate (per 100,000)

Dogs (W54)

7,391

51

29

Other mammals (W55)

4,188

29

17

Non-venomous snakes, lizards and other reptiles (W59)

1,995

14

7.9

Non-venomous insects and arthropods (including spiders) (W57)

554

4

2.2

Non-venomous marine animals (excluding crocodiles) (W56)

228

2

0.9

Birds (W61)

29

0.2

0.1

Rats (W53)

23

0.2

0.1

Crocodiles and alligators (W58)

14

0.1

0.1

Total

14,422

100

57

Notes
1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population, calculated using estimated resident population as at 31 December of the relevant year.
2. Percentages may not sum to total due to rounding.
3. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (10th edition) external cause codes (ACCD 2017).

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Table 3: Venomous animals involved in injury hospitalisations, 2018–19

Type of venomous animal

Number

%

Rate (per 100,000)

Bees and wasps (X23)

1,244

35

4.9

Snakes (X20)

672

19

2.7

Spiders (X21)

599

17

2.4

Others (X22, X24–X29)

1,022

29

4.0

Total

3,537

100

14.1

Notes
1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population, calculated using estimated resident population as at 31 December of the relevant year.
2. Percentages may not sum  to total due to rounding.
4. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (10th edition) external cause codes (ACCD 2017).

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detail, see Data tables B19–20.

Variation by age and sex

Injury rates due to contact with living things differ for males and females and across age groups. In 2018–19:

  • 60% of the hospitalisations were for males
  • the age-standardised rates of hospitalisation were 135 cases per 100,000 males, and 89 per 100,000 females
  • young people aged 15–24 had the highest rate of hospitalisation (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Hospitalisations due to contact living things, by age group and sex, 2018–19

Bar graph of hospitalisations. The columns represent sex within 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display either age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The default displays males and females and the reader can also select to display persons.

For more detail, see Data tables B19–20.

Severity of hospitalised injuries

There are many ways that the severity, or seriousness, of an injury could be measured. Using the available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:

  • number of days in hospital
  • time in an intensive care unit (ICU)
  • time on a ventilator.

By data based on these measures, injuries due to contact with living things were less severe than the average for all hospitalised injuries (Table 4).

Table 4: Severity of hospitalised injuries due to contact with living things, 2018–19

 

Contact with living things

All injuries

Average number of days in hospital

1.9

4.1

% of cases with time in an ICU

0.8

2.5

% of cases involving continuous ventilatory support

0.2

1.2

Note: Average number of days in hospital (length of stay) includes admissions that are transfers from 1 hospital to another or transfers from 1 admitted care type to another within the same hospital, except where care involves rehabilitation procedures.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Nature of injuries sustained

In 2018–19, the wrist and hand was the body part most often identified as the principal site of injury in hospitalisations caused by contact with living things (29%), closely followed by the head and neck (22%) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Hospitalised injuries due to contact with living things, by principal body part injured, 2018–19

The visualisation features an outline of a person with labels for body parts accounting for hospitalisation due to contact with living things. Injuries to the wrist and hand accounted for the most hospitalisations while the trunk (including spine, abdomen and pelvis) accounted for the fewest.

Note: Body part refers to the principal reason for hospitalisation. Number and percentage of injuries classified as Other, multiple and incompletely specified body regions and Injuries not described in terms of body region not shown—see Data table A11.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detail, see Data table A11.

Open wounds were the most common type of injury for people who were hospitalised due to contact with living things, followed by fracture (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Hospitalised injuries due to contact with living things, by type of injury, by sex, 2018–19

Bar graph showing type of injury sustained by category and by sex. Open wound was the most common for both males and females, followed by fracture. The reader can select to display either the crude rate per 100,000 population or the number of cases. The default display shows data for males and females, and the reader can also select to display for persons.

For more detail, see Data table A10.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

In 2018–19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • there were almost 1,900 hospitalisations due to contact with living things, with the rate for males 1.6 times as high as for females  (Table 5)
  • hospitalisation rates were highest in the 25–44 and 15-24 age groups, compared with other life-stage age groups (Figure 4).
Table 5: Number and rate of hospitalisations due to contact with living things, by sex, Indigenous Australians, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Number

1,157

739

1,896

Rate (per 100,000)

277

176

226

Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Indigenous and other Australians

In 2018–19, Indigenous people, compared with other Australians, were twice as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with living things (Table 6).

Deaths are not compared here because of low numbers.

Table 6: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of injury hospitalisations due to contact with living things, by Indigenous status and sex, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Indigenous Australians

268

176

222

Other Australians

131

86

109

Notes
1. Rates are age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population (per 100,000).
2. 'Other Australians’ includes cases where Indigenous status is missing or not stated.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Figure 4: Injury hospitalisations due to contact with living things, by Indigenous status, by age group and sex, 2018–19

The visualisation features a column graph for hospitalisations. The columns represent data for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.

For more detail, see Data tables A4–6.

Remoteness

In 2018–19, people living in Australia’s Very remote areas, compared with people living in Major cities, were 3.2 times as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with living things (Table 7).

Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Table 7: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of injury hospitalisations due to contact with living things, by remoteness and sex, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Major cities

109

73

91

Inner regional

179

125

152

Outer regional

218

130

175

Remote

307

186

249

Very remote

350

221

289

Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

The highest age-specific rate of injury hospitalisation due to contact with living things was among the 15–24 life-stage age group living in Remote areas of Australia. (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Hospitalisations due to contact with living things, by remoteness, by age group and sex, 2018–19

Column graph for hospitalisations. The columns represent data for each of the 5 remoteness categories by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.

For more detail, see Data tables A7–9.

For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see Technical notes.

More information

Defining injury hospitalisations and deaths: how injuries were counted

Technical notes: how the data were calculated.

Data tables: download full data tables.

Glossary