Men are 12 times more likely than women to suffer human bites that are severe enough to require surgery, according to a new study to be published in the July issue of the Emergency Medicine Journal.
The bites often occur during brawls and on weekends or holidays. Alcohol is almost always involved, according to the study’s researchers.
For the study, researchers reviewed the records of 92 patients requiring assessment for human bite wounds by the plastic surgery service at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, between January 2003 and December 2005. The 92 patients had a total of 96 bites.
— Eighty-five of the patients were men.
— Alcohol was involved in 86 percent of the incidents. Drugs were involved in 12 percent of the injuries.
— Seventy percent of the incidents occurred on weekends.
— Seven out of 10 of the bites were to the face. Sixty-five percent of the injuries were to the ear.
— Bites became infected in one in five patients, and the infection was more common when people waited more than 12 hours to seek medical attention.
Researchers said human bite wounds are more dangerous than people think and immediate medical attention should be sought for bites. “The human bite injury is a deceptive wound and because of the potential for infective, functional and aesthetic complications it requires prompt treatment,” they wrote.
Human bite wounds contain high levels of bacteria, as saliva contains as many as 100,000,000 organisms per milliliter, representing as many as 190 different species, according to eMedicine.com.
Left untreated, bites can cause the rapid growth of bacteria on the skin. Human bites have been shown to transmit hepatitis B and C, herpes simplex virus (HSV), syphilis, tuberculosis, actinomycosis, and tetanus, eMedicine says.
In addition to brawls, human bites often occur during sporting events, the researchers said. In the 1997 boxing match between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, Tyson – who was losing the fight — famously bit Holyfield’s ear.