Mar 5, 2018
V Thilliar, In 2008 the world’s leading experts on snake bite assembled in Melbourne. They launched a Global Snake Bite Initiative with a view to raising the profile and developing practical solutions to prevent and treat snake bites.

Nothing great has been done to reduce snake bites. The lives of 4.5 million people are affected every year globally.  It is estimated that 100, 000 people die from snake bite. 250,000 are permanently disabled.

0ne source says that out of the 2, 700 different species of snakes, 375 are considered to be poisonous. Another source says that out of the 3, 000 different species of snakes, only about 500 of these species are said to be poisonous.

Snakes are found in almost every country of the world except in New Zealand, Antarctica, Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland.

Most of the victims are from poor nations. Dr. Ken Winkel, Director of the University of Melbourne’s Australian Venom Research Unit and colleagues launched their model for a Global Snake Bite Initiative in Melbourne on 27th November, 2008.

According to Dr. Ken Winkle, Australia has had a long history in the treatment of stings and bites. Australia uses several innovations including pressure bandage.  Australia also can learn from the way other countries manage snake bite.

Antivenom (or antivenin) has been available for over one hundred years. But many countries lack access to safe, effective antivenom supplies. It is expensive. It is outside the reach of many poor people.

It is a paradox that although the snake is the symbol of medicine globally, medicine appears to have forgotten about snake bite.

Snake bite does not take place in New Zealand because there are no snakes in New Zealand. It is uncommon in the United States. But in many developing countries, snake bite is a major occupational hazard for rural people. The future is bleak for many of the survivors of snake bite. Many species of snakes found in the tropics produce venoms. They cause extensive local tissue damage. Many victims suffer permanent disability.

You can take some preventive measures to reduce snake bites. You must be careful when playing or hiking in wooded areas, near water or other wilderness areas. You must wear boots and long pants when you go into wooded areas. You must watch where you step. Some poisonous snake bites occur when you accidentally step on near a snake. You must avoid tall grass and piles of leaves and wood. It may be a hiding place for snakes.

“Anyone who will be around snakes or other venomous animals needs to be extremely careful, because they are still dangerous. It is very important to know which snakes are harmful and which ones are not”, says Stephen Galli of Stanford University.  Poisonous snakes have fangs. Non-poisonous snakes do have teeth but not fangs.

Signs and symptoms of snake bite are: initially very painful with swelling in the bitten area, nausea, sweating, diarrhea, drowsiness, pain in the chest and double vision.

Do not cut, suck or use ice on the bitten area. Do not allow the victim to move or walk. Lay the victim down. Do not elevate the bitten limb. Remove any tight clothing or jewelry in case the area swells.

Apply firm pressure-bandage over the bite site as soon as possible to slow the circulation. Bandage upwards from the lower portion of the bitten limb as high as possible up the limb. The bandage should be as tight as you would apply to a sprained ankle.

Apply a splint such as rolled up newspaper to ensure the limb is immobilized. Check for circulation below bandaged site.

The purpose of pressure/ immobilization is to retard the movement of venom from the bite site into the circulation. It is the buying time for the patient to reach medical care. Research has shown that very little venom reaches the blood stream if firm pressure is applied over the bitten area and the limb is immobilized. Be prepared for skills for life if the patient reacts badly to the bite.

References:
MediTran Skills for Life First Aid Mannual
Science Daily- November 27, 2008

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