Intended for healthcare professionals


Do animals bite more during a full moon? Retrospective observational analysis

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 23 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1559

Mad Dogs and Englishmen...


Bhattacharjee et al’s paper on the relationship between dog bites and
lunar phase makes interesting reading and demonstrates a strong
relationship between the two in Bradford1. We decided to test whether this
hypothesis would be substantiated by an analysis of data from the All
Wales Injuries Surveillance System (AWISS)2.

We analysed both dog and human bite victims attending emergency
departments in Wales between January 1999 and June 2000 and followed
Bhattacharjee’s methodology.

There were 2887 dog bites and 550 human bites. There was considerable day to day variability in
the number of bites. The slight peak at day 0 (full moon) and day 1 (17% excess) is not
statistically significant, a finding that is in clear contrast to that in

Bhattacharjee et al may have furthered Noel Coward’s observation that
‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’, by adding ‘and bite at
the full moon’. Fortunately, this type of behaviour appears to be
restricted to the eastern side of Offa’s Dyke.

Rhys Pockett, Research Assistant
Sarah Jones, Lecturer
Ronan A. Lyons, Senior Lecturer
Department of Epidemiology, Statistics and Public Health, University of
Wales College of Medicine

Peter Richmond, Consultant in Emergency medicine
University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

1. Bhattacharjee, C., Bradley, P., Smith, M., Scally, A. J., Wilson,
B. J. Do animals bite more during a full moon? Retrospective observational
analysis. BMJ 2000; 321:1559-1561 (23 December)

2. Lyons R. All Wales Injury Surveillance System (AWISS). Eurorisc
newsletter (European

review of injury surveillance and control) 1998;3:6.

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 March 2001
Rhys Pockett
Research Assistant
University of Wales College of Medicine