Cover image for Bitten : true medical stories of bites and stings
Bitten : true medical stories of bites and stings
Nagami, Pamela.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
352 pages; 22 cm
Invincible invaders -- Fangs in the dark -- Stingers from the sea -- Beautiful, deadly cones -- The limbless ones -- Silent stowaways -- Nightmare -- Sponge face and black fever -- Summer. New York, 1999 -- "The jaws that bite" -- Rage -- Bitten -- Menagerie -- Monkey business -- Human bites.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RD96.2 .N34 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



We've all been bitten. And we all have stories.

The bite attacks featured in this dramatic book take place in big cities, small towns, and remote villages around the world and throughout history. Some are as familiar and contemporary as encounters with mosquitoes in New York City and snakes in southern California's Hollywood Hills or as exotic and foreign as the tsetse in equatorial Africa, the camel in Riyadh, and the Komodo dragon in Indonesia. While others, such as people biting other people---well, these are in a category of their own.

Among the startling stories and fascinating facts in Bitten .
o A six-year-old girl descends into weeks of extreme lassitude until a surgeon plucks an engorged tick from her scalp.
o A diabetic living in the West Indies awakes one morning to a rat eating his left great and second toes.
o A twenty-eight-year-old man loses a third of his nose to a bite by his wife.
o In San Francisco, after a penile bite, a man develops "flesh-eating strep," which spreads to his lower abdomen.
o Severe bites by rabid animals to the face and digits, because of their rich nerve supply, are the most likely to lead to rabies and have the shortest incubation periods.
o Following the bite of a seal or contact with its tissues, sealers develop such agonizing pain and swelling in their bites that, far from medical care, they sometimes amputate their own fingers.
o Perhaps the most devastating human bite wound injuries are those involving the nose; doctors in Boroko near Papua, New Guinea, reported a series of ninety-five human bites treated in the Division of Surgery from 1986 to 1992---twelve were to the nose, nine in women, and three in men, and in most of the cases, the biter was an angry spouse.

With reports from medical journals, case histories, colleagues, and from her own twenty-eight-year career as a practicing physician and infectious diseases specialist, Pamela Nagami's Bitten offers readers intrigued by human infection and disease and mesmerized by creatures in p0the wild a compulsively readable narrative that is entertaining, sometimes disgusting, and always enjoyable.

Author Notes

Pamela Nagami, M.D., is a practicing physician in internal medicine and infectious diseases and a clinical associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Sometimes it's as obvious as a crocodile's steely jaws closing on a limb. Other times, it's a sting that remains undetected until there is observable swelling, redness, fever, or worse. Thousands of different types of creatures bite or sting people millions of times daily, and there is no escape from this predation. From the jungles of Peru to the Alaskan frontier to the streets of New York, humans fall victim to all manner of dental assaults, the vast majority of which are as harmless as the itching welt left by the common mosquito. But the deadly sting of a Portuguese man-of-war, or the infectious bite of a human being, can threaten life and limb. In chapter after grisly chapter, infectious disease specialist Nagami describes the case histories of persons bitten or stung by creatures great and small. The world tour she conducts, which also explores treatments and cures, takes in such diverse perils as the African tsetse fly, the Komodo dragon, fire ants, family pets, garfish, and donkeys. --Donna Chavez Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this fascinating but frightening book, Nagami presents numerous case studies of infections contracted around the world from ants, spiders, mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects and from such larger animals as snakes, rats, alligators, dogs, cats, horses, monkeys and humans. Culling the research of doctors and scientists, Nagami (The Woman with a Worm in Her Head) describes, in accessible language, the symptoms and conditions. Many of the biters and stingers look harmless-like a sand fly that transmits an infection called leishmaniasis, which can eat away a person's nose. Some have a more frightening appearance, like the Indonesian Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard, which is known to have eaten humans. But even the most familiar can pose grave threats to human health: mosquitoes, which carry West Nile virus, yellow fever and malaria; dogs, whose bites can transmit rabies; and humans, whose mouths contain a virulent bacterium. Insects also travel across continents, surprising unaware victims-and physicians: for example, the red fire ant, a native of South America, and the hobo spider, a native of Europe, both of which have venomous bites, have spread to large areas of the U.S. As Nagami points out, "despite our technological sophistication and urban sprawl, we can never isolate ourselves from the natural world." She adds to this absorbing read an extensive glossary and bibliography. Agent, B.J. Robbins. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



It was at the end of December that Alfred first noticed one and then two red bumps under the right side of his chin. He gave them little thought at first. They seemed like pimples from shaving irritation, or maybe ingrown hairs. But the bumps didn't go away. Instead, though painless, they gradually got larger. Their tops broke open to form shallow ulcers, which drained a small amount of yellow fluid.... At the end of January, he became aware of a vague swelling just under the point of his chin, also painless. Over the next week it slowly enlarged to the size and firmness of a hard-boiled egg yolk. The ulcers had also gotten bigger; each was now about a quarter inch across.... On February 1, 2003, Alfred came to the walk-in clinic at my hospital.... He showed the ulcers and the swelling under his chin to a physician on duty.... I was in my office when my beeper went off. The doctor who answered the phone didn't mince words. "I've got a seventy-two-year-old guy down here who was in a jungle in Peru and now has a weird ulcer He says he thinks it might be leishmaniasis." I had never seen a case of leishmaniasis, but I knew that the American form, left untreated, could eat up the middle of a person's face, starting with his nose. The Portuguese in Brazil call the condition espundia , or sponge, because that's what the patient's face becomes---a ragged, porous hole, like a sea sponge. "I'll be right down," I said. Copyright 2004 by Pamela Nagami Excerpted from Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings by Pamela Nagami All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
1 Invincible Invadersp. 1
2 Fangs in the Darkp. 18
3 Stingers from the Seap. 40
4 Beautiful, Deadly Conesp. 56
5 The Limbless Onesp. 66
6 Silent Stowawaysp. 87
7 Nightmarep. 101
8 Sponge Face and Black Feverp. 126
9 New York, Summer 1999p. 153
10 "The Jaws That Bite"p. 169
11 Ragep. 191
12 Bittenp. 207
13 Menageriep. 221
14 Monkey Businessp. 244
15 Human Bitesp. 268
Conclusionp. 287
Glossaryp. 289