Contact with living things (also known as ‘Exposure to animate mechanical forces’), includes bites and stings from non-venomous animals, insects and plants, and unintentional person-to-person contact—such as while playing sport.

Contact with living things excludes injuries caused by venom, (for example, from certain types of snakes, spiders, jellyfish, bees and wasps). This is because of the different nature of venom-related injuries. For information on injuries due to venomous bites and stings, see Other unintentional injuries.

This category also excludes injuries and deaths involving intentional contact. For example, injuries and deaths caused by intentional harmful contact between people is included under Assault and homicide.

In 2017–18, 4.4% of hospitalised injury cases and 0.1% of injury deaths were due to contact with living things.

Deaths in this category are relatively rare. Because of this, detailed information about these deaths is limited in this report.

In 2017–18, contact with living things such as non-venomous animals and plants, and other people resulted in:

23,296 hospitalisation cases

94 per 100,000 population

 16 deaths

 0.1 per 100,000 population

This article only includes data on injuries that result in hospital admission or death. If a person dies from an injury after being admitted to hospital, both the hospitalisation and the death is included in this report. For more information, see Defining injury hospitalisation cases and injury deaths.

Which types of contact with living things resulted in hospitalisation?

In 2017–18:

  • contact with animals was the top cause of injury (58%) for hospitalisation cases from contact with living things (Table 1). Of these, almost 1 in 2 (49%) injuries involved dogs (Table 2). Other animals in this category include non-venomous snakes, spiders, insects, marine animals, birds, rats and crocodiles
  • almost 2 in 5 (39%) injuries caused by contact with living things involved person-to-person contact.
Table 1: Top causes of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things, 2017–18

Cause

Number

%

Rate (per 100,000)

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

13,398

58

54

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

9,192

39

37

Contact with plants (W60)

457

2

2

Other and unspecified (W64)

249

1

1

Total

23,296

100

94

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.
  5. Excludes injuries caused by venomous animals and plants. See Other unintentional injuries.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Table 2: Types of animals involved in injury hospitalisation cases, 2017–18

Type of animal

Number

%

Rate (per 100,000)

Dogs (W54)

6,563

49.0

26.5

Other mammals (W55)

3,855

28.8

15.5

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

1,954

14.6

7.9

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

734

5.5

3.0

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

222

1.7

0.9

Birds (W61)

36

0.3

0.1

Rats (W53)

19

0.1

0.1

Crocodiles and alligators (W58)

15

0.1

0.1

Total (includes other)

13,398

100.0

54.0

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. Excludes injuries caused by venomous animals and plants. These injuries are included in the Other unintentional injuries category.
  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 detailed data, see Data tables B15–16.

Trends over time

Between 2008–09 and 2016–17, there has been a 4.0% annual average increase in hospitalisation rates due to contact with living things. Annual average rate changes are calculated using modelled age-standardised rates (see Technical notes for more details).

Because of changes in data collection methods, hospitalisations data for 2017–18 should not be compared with those of previous years and are not included in Figure 1 (see Technical notes for more details).

Figure 1: Hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things, by age group and sex, 2008–09 to 2016–17

Line graph with 3 lines representing the trend for males, females and persons from 2008–09 to 2016–17 for hospitalisation cases. The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number, and can select by life-stage age group including all ages.

For more detailed data, see Data tables C1–4 and E1–4.

How do rates vary by age and sex?

Injury rates due to contact with living things differ for males and females and across age groups (Figure 2). In 2017–18:

  • 3 in 5 injury hospitalisations due to contact with living things were for males (14,322 cases) and 2 in 5 were for females (8,974 cases)
  • 9 of the 16 deaths due to contact with living things were for females and 7 were for males
  • the age-standardised rate of injuries due to contact with living things hospitalisations for males was 119 cases per 100,000 males, compared with 72 per 100,000 females
  • young people aged 15–24 had the highest rate of injury hospitalisation due to contact with living things, compared with other life-stage age groups—despite being only 13% of the population, they were involved in 23% of injury hospitalisations cases due to contact with living things.

Figure 2: Hospitalisation cases due to contact living things, by age group and sex, 2017–18

The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisation cases and 1 for deaths. 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 detailed data, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.

How severe are hospitalised injuries?

Three measures that may indicate the severity of a hospitalised injury are length of stay, percentage of cases with time in an intensive care unit (ICU), and percentage of cases involving continuous ventilator support.

The average duration of a hospital stay for injuries due to contact with living things was shorter than the average for all injury hospitalisations and the percentages of cases that included time in an ICU or continuous ventilator support were lower than the overall percentage for hospitalised injuries (Table 3).

Table 3: Severity of hospitalised injury cases due to contact with living things, 2017–18

 

Injuries due to contact with living things

All hospitalised injuries

Average number of days in hospital

2.0

3.3

% of cases with time in an ICU

0.5

2.4

% of cases involving continuous ventilator support

0.1

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.

Which types of injury are sustained?

In 2017–18, the wrist and hand was the body part most frequently injured in hospitalisation cases caused by contact with living things (30%), closely followed by the head and neck (26%) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Hospitalised injury cases due to contact with living things by body part injured, 2017–18

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 detailed data, see Data table A11.

Open wounds were the most common type of injury for people who were hospitalised due to contact with living things (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Hospitalised injury cases due to contact with living things, by type of injury, by sex, 2017–18

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 detailed data, see Data table A10.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

In 2017–18, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • there were almost 1,650 hospitalisations due to contact with living things (Table 4)
  • males, compared with females, were 1.6 times as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with living things
  • hospitalisation rates due to contact with living things were highest in the 15–24 age group, compared with other life-stage age groups (Figure 5).
Table 4: Number and rate of hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things by sex, Indigenous Australians, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Number

1,061

588

1,649

Rate (per 100,000)

258

143

201

Notes:

  1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
  2. Deaths data only includes data for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database; AIHW National Mortality Database.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

In 2017–18, Indigenous people, compared with non-Indigenous Australians, were 2.1 times as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with living things (Table 5).

Deaths data are not presented due to volatility of age-standardised rates based on a small number of cases.

Table 5: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things by Indigenous status and sex, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Indigenous Australians

240

149

196

Non-Indigenous Australians

114

70

92

Notes:

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

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

The age-specific rate of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things was highest among the 15–24 life-stage age group for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Figure 5). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Figure 5: Injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things, by Indigenous status, by age group and sex, 2017–18

The visualisation features a column graph for hospitalisation cases. 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 detailed data, see Data tables A4–A6 and D4–D8.

Remoteness

In 2017–18, people living in Australia’s Very remote areas, compared with people living in Major cities, were 3.6 times as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with living things (Table 6).

Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Table 6: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things by remoteness and sex, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Major cities

97

59

78

Inner regional

150

98

124

Outer regional

184

102

144

Remote

286

161

226

Very remote

336

214

279

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

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

The highest age-specific rate of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things was among the 15–24 life-stage age group living in Very remote areas of Australia. (Figure 6). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Figure 6: Hospitalisation cases due to contact with living things, by remoteness, by age group and sex, 2017–18

Column graph for hospitalisation cases. 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 detailed data, see Data tables A7–A9 and D9–10.

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

More information

Technical notes—read about how the data were calculated.

Data tables—download full data tables.

Glossary

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