Are there any tests I should have if I have a human bite?
For most bites, tests are not needed. In some circumstances, one or more of the following might be necessary.
If your bite wound has become infected, the doctor may wish to know which germ is causing the infection in order to treat it with the correct antibiotic. If this is the case they will take a swab. This looks rather like a cotton bud on a long stick. A sample of any pus in your wound is collected on this swab and sent to the laboratory.
An X-ray is often needed if you have a wound to your hand, particularly a bite on your clenched fist. This is to check there is no break (fracture) to the bone and there are no bits of tooth in the wound. Small children who have been bitten on the head may need an X-ray, as their skull bones are soft and more likely to have a fracture.
If there is a risk that the person who bit you might have hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV, you may be advised to have a blood test to check for these conditions. If you were the person who gave the bite, you may also be asked to have a blood test for these conditions.
The blood test would be done at the time of the injury and then repeated six weeks later and again after a further six weeks. This is because if you have become infected, it takes a while for the blood test to become positive.
Further reading and references
Bites - human and animal; NICE CKS, July 2015 (UK access only)
Harrison M; A 4-year review of human bite injuries presenting to emergency medicine and Injury. 2009 Aug40(8):826-30. Epub 2009 Feb 1.
Guidelines for the emergency management of injuries (including needlesticks and sharps injuries, sexual exposure and human bites) where there is a risk of transmission of bloodborne viruses and other infectious diseases; EMI toolkit, Health Protection Surveillance Centre, September 2012
Patil PD, Panchabhai TS, Galwankar SC; Managing human bites. J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2009 Sep2(3):186-90. doi: 10.4103/0974-2700.55331.
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