Human Bites - Tests

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 04 Jul 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Prof Cathy Jackson, 04 Jul 2017

For most bites, tests are not needed. In some circumstances, one or more of the following might be necessary.

Swabs

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.

X-rays

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.

Blood tests

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

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