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J Agromedicine. 2009;14(3):357-69. doi: 10.1080/10599240903042024.

Bull-related incidents: their prevalence and nature.

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Agricultural Systems Management, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2093, USA.


The hazards associated with breeding livestock were well documented in some of the earliest annals of literature. With the exception of horses, bulls have probably caused more livestock- related deaths and injuries to human beings throughout recorded history than any other domesticated animal. A review of the literature might suggest that attacks by bulls were more of a problem in the past than today. However, a bull-related injury surveillance project conducted by the authors documented that bulls continue to contribute to an unacceptable number of serious injuries and deaths. In 2006, following an increase in the number of bull-attack cases identified during ongoing surveillance of agricultural work-related injuries, a search of agricultural injury data was initiated to gain a better perspective of the bull-incidence problem. Approximately 3 years of data, gathered from daily reviews of online sources plus a review of more than 12,000 prior injury reports, were combined, coded, and summarized. A total of 287 cases primarily from the United States were documented and analyzed. Where reported, contributing factors were identified, including age of victim, type of bull, type and condition of handling facility, experience of handler, and time of year. Analysis of the literature and data indicates that (1) the risk of injury associated with hours of exposure to bulls is higher than that of working around cows; (2) the risk of a bull-related fatality, based upon the hours of exposure, appears to be higher than other known hazards, such as tractor operation; (3) victims generally appeared to have had considerable experience with handling bulls; (4) bulls raised from calves on-site appeared more aggressive; and (5) most of the incidents involved the victim being inside the bull holding area. Recommendations are presented for reducing the potential of bull attacks on humans.

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