Uruguayan football player Luis Suárez made headlines this week by biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during a world cup match on Tuesday. This unsurprisingly led to memes galore and an outpouring of abuse on twitter.
After a similar incident last year, psychologists suggested that Suárez’s biting behaviour is likely to be a primitive response, resulting from frustration. Experts predicted a repeat occurrence, which has come to pass during the high pressure world cup game.
In response to the Suárez bite, there was an explosion of contempt for such behaviour. The general consensus is that biting is wrong, childish and unsportsmanlike.
Often, human bites are harmless. Children can bite during play, and many people enjoy biting as part of foreplay. In some cases, however, bites can become a serious health risk. Luckily for Chiellini, Suárez not break the skin. If he had, the Italian would have become vulnerable to several nasty infections.
Approximately 10-15% of bites become infected. Symptoms of an infected bite include pain, tenderness and redness/swelling of the skin around the wound. The individual may develop a fever, the bite may leak pus, or the glands near the wound could become swollen. In these circumstances, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.
Infections spread by human bites include Hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, syphilis and tetanus. Though very rare, there have even been cases reported of HIV transmission via infected bites.
The faster medical attention is found, the more effective the treatment to prevent infection. Bites in areas with poor blood supply, such as the ear and nose cartilage, are particularly difficult to treat.
The best way to prevent an infection is to be a decent human being and not bite other people.
Thankfully, FIFA announced today that Suárez will serve a 4 month ban as a result of the biting incident.