A consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Akanbi Olojede, says human bite could be potentially dangerous and should be treated with urgency to avoid life-threatening infection from microorganism or tetanus.
This is corroborated by experts at online health portal, Mayo Clinic; and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA.
Olojede noted that even if a bite victim had taken a tetanus injection before the incident, a booster injection should be administered to reduce the risk of tetanus infection.
Speaking in an interview with our correspondent, the consultant warned that there is no cure for tetanus, but that effort could only be made to manage complications that might arise until effects of the tetanus toxin wear off.
“If the booster injection is not taken, the human bite wound risks having superimposed infection due to the array of microorganisms present in saliva,” he stated.
Continuing, Olojede said, “Tetanus infection, which is also known as ‘lockjaw,’ can lead to painful muscle contractions, particularly of the jaw and neck muscles. It can cause respiratory distress that could lead to the bite victim’s death.
“Tetanus booster shot should be administered. Aside from cleaning the wound with strong antiseptic, and dressing it, the victim should be given antibiotics medication to protect against secondary infection by other bacteria.”
According to Mayo Clinic, human bites can be as dangerous as or even more dangerous than animal bites because of the types of bacteria and viruses contained in the human mouth. Human bites that break the skin can become infected, the portal adds.
It advised that a victim of human teeth bite should seek emergency medical care, adding, “If you haven’t had tetanus injection within five years, your doctor may recommend a booster. In this case, get the booster injection within 48 hours of the injury.”
Again, experts at Cleveland Clinic say that complications from a human bite can be very serious, including severe infection and permanently damaged bones, joints and/or tendons.
“It’s unlikely that a human bite will be fatal, especially if you seek out proper medical care, particularly around the infection,” the clinic counsels.
According to Wounds, a peer-reviewed journal focusing on wound care and wound research, human bites are the third most common bite wound diagnosed in emergency departments, after dog and cat bites.
It noted that management of human bite can be challenging, given the high risk of infection associated with multi-organism-rich oral flora.
Recognition and early aggressive treatment are essential steps in preventing infections and other associated complications, the journal emphasised.
Also, Medscape, a website providing access to medical information for clinicians, states that approximately 10-15 percent of human bite wounds become infected owing to multiple factors.
“The bacterial inoculum of human bite wounds contains as many as 100 million organisms per milliliter and is made up of as many as 190 different species. Many of these are anaerobes that flourish in the low redox environment of tartar that lies between human teeth or in areas of gingivitis.”
The portal notes that most injuries due to human bites involve the hands. “Hand wounds, regardless of the etiology, have a higher rate of infection than do those in other locations,” it stated; noting that infections associated with human bites are often far advanced by the time they receive appropriate care.
“Patients often wait until infection is well established before seeking medical treatment,” the portal laments.
Olojede, however, said that humans don’t have venom. “Basically, it is not an emergency per se. Human bite can’t be classified as being venomous or likened to a bite by dangerous animals.
“The most important thing is, what extent of damage has the bite inflicted on the victim and the intensity?
“But where danger comes in is when someone completely bites off the ear, upper or lower lip of an individual and spits it out, and some will go to the extent of swallowing it.
“In this case, the aim of the assailant is to disfigure the victim, which is causing grievous bodily harm. Such bites can be quite dangerous because of the bleeding that will occur.
“Such individuals should also be given pain killer because human bite could be very painful and unbearable by the following day, especially when it is deep and big.
“The risk of secondary infection is also high, but not the type that can lead to death. Nevertheless, treatment should commence immediately, beginning with a tetanus booster,” he emphasised.
Olojede, a former President, Nigerian Dental Association, further explained that the human mouth contains normal oral flora or bacteria, the absence of which can lead to death.
He said, “If we don’t have them, there is no way we can survive. We have them in our stomach, large and small intestines, and they have their functions. Someone without these organisms will come down with some terrible illness that can kill.”
According to News Medical Life Science, over 700 bacterial species co-inhabit healthily in the human mouth, and exist at diverse locations in the mouth, including hard palate, soft palate, teeth, tongue, and tonsillar areas.
It explained that most of the microorganisms that inhabit the oral cavity live in symbiotic relationship – where both the host and guest co-exist mutually for the benefit of each other.
85% doctors planning to leave Nigeria for greener pastures – NARD
At least 85 per cent of Nigerian doctors are planning to leave the country to seek greener pastures, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
This is according to the data obtained from the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors.
The report also showed that the preferred countries for immigration intentions are the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The NARD members are of House Officers, Registrars, Senior Registrars, and Medical Officers below the level of Principal Medical Officers.
Speaking with our correspondent, the President of the association, Dr Emeka, said if the government did not take steps to address the ongoing brain drain in the country, the situation will get worse in the health sector.
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“When we are saying these things, it looks as if it’s a joke. Mobility of labour is acceptable anywhere and what the government should do is to address the root causes of the immigration of doctors, as long as they don’t address it, when they see better opportunities out there, they will want to go there.
“It’s about the choices people make about themselves when they think that the government is not taking care of them. The government needs to improve on the things we have highlighted to reduce the brain drain,” he said.
He noted that as of October 2022, there were only 10,000 resident doctors in the country.
“Five months after, and we don’t have any reason to suggest that there is a downward scale of doctors migrating, if anything should be, it should be an increment in the immigration because nothing essentially has changed in terms of the working condition, infrastructure, security and all that,” he added.
Going by this figure, it means that 8,500 resident doctors plan to leave the country.
The 2023 macroeconomic outlook report released by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group recently said that aside from the considerable health infrastructural gap, Nigeria has lost many medical professionals to brain drain, leading to personnel inadequacy in the health sector.
The report said, “One of the major factors inhibiting Nigeria’s economic development has been the brain drain and knowledge gap in human capital. Knowledge as a significant driver of economies of scale can be increased by investing in education and providing better health services, which is the nation’s human capital formation.
“An equipped labour force, a stable economic environment, a thriving private sector, and robust social welfare programmes are crucial in attaining Shared Prosperity in Nigeria.”
How Nigerians above 40 can stay healthy – Physician
A public health expert, Dr. Akinlemibola Makinde, has urged Nigerians, especially those above 40 to consider creating health-related New Year resolutions to stay healthy.
Makinde, who is the chairman of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria also noted that it is essential to meet with one’s doctor to plan how to stay healthy and fit in the new year.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, Makinde said some lifestyle changes are crucial to stay healthy each year.
He said, “Health-wise, it is necessary to make a new year’s health resolution to take care of yourself properly, what you eat, and so on, especially if you are above 40.
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“Changing one’s lifestyle is important. People should take more vegetables than carbohydrates, people should also exercise, not in a rigorous manner. Doing exercises like taking a walk, and taking plenty of water counts.”
Makinde noted that it can be difficult to abide by any resolution, but advised that people write down their health goals for the year and keep the document where they can see it daily making it easy to imbibe it as a habit.
He also stated that it is important to consult one’s doctor when deciding to make health changes stating that consultation with one’s doctor will assist the doctor to give specific recommendations necessary for the individual based on their health status and history.
Also, in an earlier interview, a nutritionist, James Oloyede, noted that as one approaches 40, the intake of certain foods should be limited.
According to him, people over 40 should stay away from refined carbohydrates found in pasta, pastries as well as white bread, processed meat like sausages, hot dogs, and fruit juices, adding that persons over 40 should also avoid fatty food, energy drinks, and the like.
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