First Aid for Snake Bites
Bob Taschler (bob_taschler@PUBLICITAS-USA.COM)
Fri, 10 Jul 1998 14:15:33 -0500
This website was just suggested to me. Found at
Florida State University
Venomous Snake Bite Information
Palm Beach Herpetological Society
7000 venomous snake bites are reported annually in the United States.
15 fatalities result, placing the chance of survival at roughly 499 out of 500.
Approximately 3000 are classed as "illegitimate," meaning these bites occurred
while the victim was handling or molesting the snake.
85% of the natural bites are below the knee.
50% are dry. Squeezing the venom glands to inject is a voluntary reflex. In that
strikes against humans are generally defensive actions, it is estimated that no
venom is purposely injected about half the time. This holds true with the pit
vipers. With the Coral Snake the amount of venom injected is directly related to
the size of the snake and the length of time it holds on to the victim.
FIRST AID THERAPY
The stabbing strike of a pit viper can be recognized by one or two definite
puncture wounds, and if venom is injected there will be intense, burning pain
and swelling around the holes.
The Coral bites and holds. There will be little pain, but the victim will begin
to lose control of all reflexes. Drooping eyelids will probably be the first
outward sign of envenomation.
Do remain calm - Remember that there is an excellent chance for survival, and in
most cases there is plenty of time.
Do suck and squeeze - as much venom as possible directly from the wound. Venom
is protein and can be taken orally with no ill effects.
Do remove jewelry - Swelling can progress rapidly, so rings, watches and
bracelets can be a real problem.
Do mark the time - The progress of symptoms (swelling) is the most obvious
indicator of the amount of envenomation.
Do keep the stricken limb below the heart.
Do get to a hospital as quickly as possible - Anti-venom serum is the only sure
cure for envenomation, and because some people are allergic to horse serum it
should only be given in a fully equipped medical facility.
In case of a Coral bite, do pull the snake off immediately - Corals' fangs are
relatively small, and they have to work at getting venom into the wound.
Therefore, the faster the snake is removed the less venom is injected.
Do attempt to identify the offending snake - Positive identification in the form
of a dead snake is helpful, if convenient, but no time or safety should be
wasted since the symptoms will give medical personnel an accurate diagnosis.
Do get a tetanus shot.
Don't cut the wound - This almost always causes more damage than it's worth.
Don't use a tourniquet - This isolates the venom in a small area and causes the
digestive enzymes in the venom to concentrate the damage.
Don't use alcohol orally - it speeds the heart and blood flow and reduces the
body's counter-acting ability.
Don't use ice - Freezing the stricken limb has been found to be a major factor
leading to amputation.
Do not play with snakes.
Keep landscape well manicured.
Wear shoes around the house.
Wear gloves when weeding.
Wear boots in snake country.
Develop the habit of watching where you step or place your hands.
For further information, or to request a guest speaker, contact the Palm Beach
Herpetological Society at P.O. Box 125, Loxahatchee, FL. 33470.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City