Bizarre teen trends have been horrifying parents for generations, but health officials are warning that a vampire-inspired biting fad could be dangerous, not to mention disgusting.
Teenagers obsessed with the “Twilight” vampire saga, or those simply fascinated with fangs, reportedly have been biting each other -- hard – and then licking or sucking the blood.
“These are kids who think they are real vampires,” said Dr. Orly Avitzur, the medical advisor to Consumers Union, the agency that publishes Consumer Reports magazine.
Avitzur said conversations with teens and sessions spent trolling vampire-related teen Web sites convinced her that the trend was taking hold. Indeed, groups like “I drink blood,” a category at www.experienceproject.com, and “I want to be a vampire” at the site www.43things.com are filled with apparent posts from young people with a yearning for blood.
“Having that thick, warm copper-tasting blood in my mouth is the best thing I can think of!” wrote a teenager identified as “GothicGirl10” this year. “Sometimes my boyfriend lets me feed off him. I let him feed off me as well.”
Such talk alarms medical experts, who warn about the dangers of blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV, as well as the risk of nasty infections. Typically, 10 to 15 percent of human bites wounds become infected.
“If you break the skin, your mouth is pretty dirty,” said Dr. Thomas Abshire, a pediatric blood and cancer specialist and spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “The human mouth flora is dirtier than a dog or cat’s.”
Equally worrisome is the motive behind the acts, the idea of branding or owning another person, the experts said.
“If you think about it, there is such glamorization in those teen vampire movies, they make it seem so sexy and appealing and intriguing,” Avitzur said. “It’s all mixed up with passion.”
But at least one teen who likes to bite says adults have got it all wrong. Michael Kaplor, 16, of Dallas, says he was biting his girlfriend intermittently for more than a year because the intimacy of it, not for any gothic obsession.
“It’s really gotten a bad rap because of this whole vampire thing,” said Kaplor.
In reality, he said, a lot of teens bite – and leave marks – for the thrill of it.
“You feel it for a considerable amount of time afterwards,” he said. “It’s the way you receive happiness.”
Some people do draw blood, but that’s where Kaplor draws the line.
“Kids don’t understand how dangerous blood is,” the high-schooler said, “especially if it’s not your own blood.”
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