Friday, 27 June 2014

First aid for human, animal bite injuries

Olufemi Oboye

When we were growing up, the only thing we knew then was that only dogs, cats and horses do bite. However, times are fast changing. It is interesting to note that some humans now bite.
On June 28, 1997, during the third round of a WBA heavy weight championship rematch between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, in the United States of America, Tyson spat out his protective mouth piece and bit off a chunk of Evander’s right ear, leaving a bewildered and mystified Holyfield bleeding profusely from the affected ear.
Since then till date, several other human bite incidences have occurred at different times.
The most recent occurred on June 24th, approximately three days ago, at the ongoing FIFA World Cup tournament, where a Uruguayan player of unquestionable talent but with unfortunate tendencies to bite, lashed out and sunk his teeth into the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini, an Italian defender, during a match between Italy and Uruguay.
Luis Suarez may have bitten more than he could chew this time because football governing body, FIFA, has begun disciplinary proceedings on the incidence. He may face a worldwide ban of up to two and a half years for his latest biting incidence.

This is not Luis’ first biting incidence. In November 2010, he was handed a seven-match ban after biting PSV midfielder, Otman Bakkai. Again, on April 21, 2013, he bit Chelsea’s midfielder, Branislav Ivanovic on his left arm, and was handed a 10-match ban.
This story sounds funny, but it is real. In fact, the most interesting part of the story is that in all the incidences, there was no act of provocation from the victims. Biting was just an act borne out of frustration, stress and loss of self control on his part.
It’s not every day that you hear of a human being biting another. But Uruguayan soccer player, Luis Su├írez, has shown us all that even mature humans occasionally bite others.
Infections through bites
Human bite wounds may not seem dangerous, but the risk of infection is higher because the human mouth contains higher levels of micro-organisms, which is introduced deep into the tissue by the teeth.
A review of 50 cases of human bites found an average of four infectious agents, and more than half of the infections contained Streptococcus anginosus, a bacterium in the same genus as that which causes strep throat. Nearly a third involved Staphylococcus aureus, the cause of most Staph infections.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, about 10 to 20 per cent of human bites become infected, and most bites and infections occur on the hand. In fact, about one third of hand infections come from bites. If not treated promptly, these infections can spread quickly and cause major complications.
Hepatitis B and C viruses can also be introduced into the body from a bite. Both affect the liver, and studies suggest that anybody who is bitten should be tested for Hepatitis B and C.
Herpes can be contacted from a bite. Several studies say this is possible since the herpes simplex virus is carried in saliva.
Rabies is caused by Rhabdo virus which replicates within the salivary glands, and it is transmitted through a bite.
Transmission of HIV through a bite is technically possible, though very, very unlikely. However, a case has been described in the Malawi Medical Journal of a woman getting HIV after being bitten on her lip by an HIV-positive sex worker during a fight.
Another incidence recorded was a case of a man getting HIV from his son after a fight — in which the HIV-positive foster son bit off the man’s thumbnail. Before that incident, it had been assumed that the HIV virus couldn’t be transmitted through saliva, since saliva inhibits the virus; but it does not appear to be true in every case.
First aid tips for bites
Once a person experiences a human-to-human, or animal-to-human bite, here are a few first aid tips that may be useful.
•First, calmly reassure the person. Wear latex gloves or wash your hands thoroughly before attending to the wound. Wash hands afterwards, too.
•If the bite is not bleeding severely, wash the wound thoroughly with mild soap and running water for three to five minutes. Then, cover the bite with antibiotic ointment and a clean dressing.
•If the bite is actively bleeding, apply direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth until the bleeding stops. Raise the area of the bite.
•If the bite is on the hand or fingers, call the doctor right away. Be prepared to tell your doctor how you got the bite. During your visit, your doctor will perform an examination. He will measure the wound, note its location, and check for signs of nerve or tendon damage. The doctor may order an X-ray and a blood test. In addition, he may give you a tetanus shot and prescribe antibiotics.
Please take every measure to prevent a bite incidence; and if it still happens, ensure you apply the necessary first-aid procedures.
Have a splendid weekend.

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