Claim: Human bites contain germs that can lead to infections with studies showing that hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpes simplex virus, syphilis, tuberculosis, actinomycosis and tetanus are transmissible through bites.
True. Human bites can be dangerous and should be treated immediately as the risk of infection from bites can be deadly.
Social media user @aproko_doctor posted a thread indicating the dangers associated with being bitten by humans. His claims include the risk of being infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpes simplex virus, syphilis, tuberculosis, actinomycosis and tetanus which are transmissible through human bites.
Dubawa spoke to Dr Kasule Iddrisu Yakubu, a Medical Officer at Bolga Regional Hospital, who confirmed that indeed, human bites can cause the infections and the spread of diseases as stated in the claim.
“Yes, once the person biting is infected, then yes. It is possible. You know when the person bites, the person creates holes on the skin, and as spread can take place through secretions, it creates the chance for whatever it is to invade into the skin through the bloodstream. Once there is bleeding, the chance for whatever disease to seep in has been created,” Dr Kasule said.
A number of studies reviewed also corroborated the doctor’s explanation.
According to a publication by Johns Hopkins Medicine, “bites from humans can easily become infected due to the numerous bacteria that is found in the mouth”.
“ …human bite wounds are more likely to become infected than dog or cat bites,” the publication added.
Furthermore, an article by Dr. Akshima Sahi, BDS on news-medical.net states that there are over 700 bacterial species that inhabit the human mouth. These bacteria are found all over the mouth in areas like the tonsillar area, teeth, tongue and the soft and hard palate.
Additionally, The NewYork State Department of Health lists human bites as a source of hepatitis B spread.
Hepatitis B is spread through blood, saliva and other bodily fluids. Although the concentration of the virus that causes hepatitis B is low in saliva, it can still be infectious, especially in instances of direct injection into the blood through bites.
However, some reports suggest that it is unlikely to get infected with Hepatitis C and HIV through human bites. However “unlikely” it is said to be does not take away from the fact that bites from people who have blood in their mouth through cuts, mixed with saliva, may lead to an infection. The case of a man who got HIV from his HIV-positive foster son after getting his thumbnail bitten off during a fight, lends credence to this possibility. This example indicates strongly that although unlikely, ruling out the possibility could be dangerous.
A publication by Barrett Jefrey, MD Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine and Revis R. Don, MD Consulting Staff, Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Florida College of Medicine in 2012, also supported the claim made by @aproko_doctor. The report lists syphilis, tuberculosis, actinomycosis, tetanus, herpes simplex virus, hepatitis C and B as diseases that can be transmitted through human bites.
The manual Managing Human Bite Injuries Guidance for Health Protection Teams by Gary Porter-Jones, on behalf of the Wales Health Protection Team, instructs on what to do when bitten. It details directives for immediate assessment and care of the wound, care for bacterial infections, blood-borne virus infections, tetanus infections, follow-up among others.
The claim that human bites contain germs which have potential to cause infections is true. Several studies and a doctor’s confirmation confirm that human bites should be treated seriously and in a timely manner.