We all get bites at some time or other.
Insects bite are probably the commonest and they cause lots of problems. There are thousands around the world who die every year from malaria. The enlarged spleens which they often get make them more prone to getting ruptured spleens from traumatic episodes. There are also other nasty mosquito spread diseases. Ticks also bite and they can cause a variety of diseases. Scorpions – their stings cause severe pain but usually not much else. Young children may get worse reactions as a few varieties are venomous. Injecting directly around the site with morphia gave the quickest and best results. You quickly had very happy customers. The above almost always cause medical diseases although there can be complications requiring surgery, and I’m a surgeon – so I tended to deal with bigger mouths and more traumatic bites.
Snakes – Their bites are not consistent in how they behave; that is they are either venomous or non- venomous, and there are a variety of venoms. The non-venomous just give you a nip without poison – scary but these are really a fairly minor issue. The venomous ones have a variety of ways of causing major problems. Among them are neurological problems, bleeding diatheses, tissue death, allergic reactions, kidney failure. It is nice if you have specific antivenins available depending on the type of snake, but our patients tended to arrive late, and antivenins are much better if given early. The polyvalent antivenoms which we held in stock were not as good at any rate. The major problems we saw were of tissue damage with massive swelling needing splitting of the skin to relieve pressure, and often cutting away the dead tissue. Amputations were occasionally necessary, but more often we could cover the dead areas with skin grafting.
Dogs – can cause nasty and even fatal bites. Many families have them but there are many more roaming the streets. These are a large pool of rabies. Even the family ones are rarely pets as we treat ours. Children are usually taught to be frightened of dogs. Their bites, like all animal bites, are germ wise ‘dirty bites’ and are usually cleaned up but not closed until they can be seen, after dressing them for a period, to not be nastily infected. A major complication of their bites may be rabies. If there was no prior inoculation (rarely done) and if there was any suspicion of the dog being rabid a course of injections was immediately begun. This is a fatal disease if caught, and a very very nasty way to die. I’ve seen several.
Donkeys – they can bite both ends. Well, it is called a kick from one end. I have seen the skin and muscle to the bone of half a face torn down as a flap with a donkey kick. The patient was a girl and fortunately the kick missed her eye but her nose and mouth were involved in the torn down flap. Caused by a donkey bite from the other end, I’ve seen a compound fracture of a forearm. There were many more donkeys than horses.
Baboons – there were a lot of them about. The second of our adopted sons attended, for a year, a school where the children had to eat inside before they went out to play as the baboons would sneak up and snatch their food if they ate in the open. The school was near a densely forested area. The locals told me that baboons can count to two. I don’t know if it is true or not. They claimed that if 3 people went into a crop as it was ripening and only 2 came out a baboon would go in and could be killed. If 2 went in and only 1 came out, they wouldn’t go in. But they can be very vicious.
A mother went to chase a marauding baboon from her garden. She left her baby on the ground nearby. The escaping baboon attacked the child, who was brought to us with a lacerated buttock, but, more seriously with his left chest ripped open, his diaphragm split widely and his spleen bruised. Fairly major surgery was needed, but he did well.
But what amazed me most were human bites. There were quite a lot. I remember 3 men – one with half his ear gone; one with a large chunk off his nose; one with half his lower lip removed. I don’t know if you would call them ‘love bites’? There were many more!
Several nasty photos under the line. Interesting but mildly gory.