How to treat snakebites

Snakebite is a wound inflicted by the mouth of a snake. A wound from a snake with short teeth and no fangs may look like a series of scratches or tiny punctures. The twin puncture wounds usually associated with snakebites appear when the paired fangs of a fanged snake break through the skin.

Snakebites from non poisonous snakes are not serious but should be cleansed with an antiseptic to prevent infection. The bite of a poisonous snake, which can inject venom into the body, may cause severe illness and sometimes death. Symptoms generally include swelling, discoloration, and pain at the site of the bite. Victims may feel weak and dizzy, perspire heavily, and experience nausea and vomiting, all of which are symptoms of shock.



GENERAL TREATMENT
1. First aid measures should focus on keeping the victim quiet so that the heart rate remains normal, thereby slowing the spread of venom in the bloodstream.

2. The area of the bite should be kept below the level of the heart.

3. Excess venom should be wiped away from the wound.

4. A roller bandage should be applied firmly to the affected limb, starting distally at the hand or foot and extended high up the limb as possible. Do not restrict circulation.

5.  An attempt should be made to identify the snake if it can be done safely.

6. The victim should seek medical attention immediately. Depending upon the victim’s symptoms and the species of the snake, the physician may administer anti-venom, a preparation that helps to neutralize the venom and minimize its harmful effects.




NB: Some snakes such as cobras and ringhals can Spit venom for up to 7 metres. This venom in the eyes of a victim may cause severe pain, swelling and temporary blindness. The eyes should be washed with large volume of water.

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