What is more dangerous? Playing soccer or being bitten by another human?
As both a doctor and a soccer enthusiast, I was shocked and appalled by the behavior of Uruguayan player Luis Suarez, who appeared to bite his Italian opponent during a World Cup qualifying game yesterday. Some pictures in the news today seem to clearly depict a penetrating teeth wound in defender Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder area.
A lot of people have asked me in the last few hours, “What’s the big deal?” Well aside from this behavior being highly unethical and unsportsmanlike, a penetrating human bite is far more dangerous than any animal bite, since the human mouth contains millions of deadly bacteria, as well as viruses that can quickly infect tissue.
And yes, for those of you who are wondering, you can get HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C from an infected individual who has bitten you. Once a penetrating bite wound has occurred, the biter’s mouth bacteria seeps into the human tissue, creating acute inflammation. If left untreated, the area will significantly swell up, grow warm to the touch and develop puss relatively quickly.
So if you happen to suffer this type of injury, it is very important to wash the area quickly and seek medical attention. If the injury is minor, your doctor may choose to give you nothing more than a good cleaning of the area and a bandage, though he or she may ask you to come back to evaluate the inflammation.
However, if the penetrating bite wound is large, the doctor may choose to treat you with antibiotics to prevent the development of an abscess – a collection of pus that causes inflammation and swelling. If an abscess does occur, the bacteria may cause blood poisoning, which can lead to endocarditis – an infection of the inner lining of the heart – or even deadly meningitis – inflammation of the brain’s protective membrane.
So here’s my final message: These kinds of unprofessional acts should not be tolerated. FIFA should take a strong stand against this player and not take this human bite lightly. And to Suarez, all I have to say is go see a dentist and fix your buck teeth.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.