What to do in case of:
How to Prevent a Snake Bite:
1) Any unknown snake is potentially dangerous; do not play, avoid any contact with any snake including those of small size, baby, lethargic, dead. A cut off head can keep poisonous activities for several minutes. Make yourself familiar with the description of poisonous snakes in the place where you live.
2) Attention!!! Use torchlight at night – all local poisonous snakes are active in the evening and at night. Pay more attention in the forest, close to bushes, tall plants, etc.
3) Snakes usually don't bite you without alarm:
- Cobra – lifts vertically front part of the body (1/3), opens hood, makes hiss, rushes to the aim.
- Vipers - make a spiral from a tail, bend like zigzag front part of the body, and make a strong hiss.
4) If you meet a snake, go back slowly, don't do sudden movements, do not turn your back to the snake, do not run, and give the possibility for a snake to go away
As a common man, one should know how to administer proper first-aid to a snakebite victim, without losing precious time.
Never try to assess whether it was venomous snakebite or not. As a layman one should treat every snakebite as venomous snakebite, as some snake venom (like that of common krait) does not show immediate effect even in the case of a serious bite, it is wise to rush to a hospital.
Even if in doubt about whether it is a snakebite or not, do the first-aid and rush the victim to the nearest hospital.
Educate your children that putting one's hand into any kind of burrow could be dangerous.
Never get into a dark bathroom; first switch on a light and then see around you before you enter.
Not all bites from venomous snakes lead to death; many venomous snakes (and as many as 85% of snakes are non venomous) deliver only a dry bite to humans. Even in the case of a full bite, with appropriate first-aid, care and treatment a snakbite victim can fully recover. Very few venomous snakebites are fatal. Just as every mosquito bite does not cause malaria, so every snakebite does not cause death.
No attempt should be made to kill the snake to carry it along to the hospital. It would result in delaying the arrival of the patient to the hospital and is potentially dangerous for the person who will attempt killing the snake. Qualified doctor can diagnose observing the patient for clinical symptoms and pathologial tests.
Snake venom is actually a kind of highly evolved salivary secretion which is used to both kill and digest prey. Venom was not made against man. There are two basic types of snake venom. One affects the nerves (venom of cobra and common krait); the other one blood (that of vipers). Polyvalent anti-venom serum is effective against the bites of the Big Four – cobra, saw-scaled viper, common krait, Russell's viper. If a venomous snake bites someone, just remember two things: don't panic; go to a hospital and get anti-venom serum. Don't waste precious time on quack's remedies, tantra-mantras, jhar-phoons, herbal preparations, etc. In case of snakebite, a well-administered first-aid is vital.
Keep the victim calm, restrict movement.
Stop lymphatic spread of venom - bandage firmly, splint and immobilise. The limb, which has been affected by the bite, should be immobilized with splint. Victim to keep the hand as close to the level of the heart as possible - this reduces the flow of venom to major areas. A compression bandage (as firm as you would put on a sprained ankle) should cover the entire limb with the splint. The wrapping should start from the digits and extend till armpit in case of hands and groin in case of bite to the leg.
Assure the victim and do not let him panic. When under panic, it will enhance heart rate and would circulate the venom faster in the body.
Remove any rings or constricting items; the affected area may swell.
A snakebite victim is under tremendous psychological stress. It is necessary to keep the patient warm. However, no alcohol/hot beverages should be given.
The patient should not be allowed to exert himself in any manner. Do not allow the victim to eat or to drink water in order to keep metabolism at low rate. No water No food is the golden rule.
DO NOT COVER THE BITE AREA AND PUNCTURE MARKS. The wound should be gently cleaned with antiseptic.
Try to aspirate the venom out of the puncture marks with standard suction devices. It has been identified that a suction more than 270 mmHg can initiate the flow from the puncture marks. Suction instruments often are included in commercial snakebite kits. But, the suction should be applied within 5 minutes of the bite.
The only remedy for venomous snakebite is the anti-venom serum, which is available at most government hospitals and public health centers. Some private nursing homes have also started stocking it and treat snakebite cases.
No ice or any other type of cooling action on the bite. Research has shown it to be potentially harmful.
No electric cable, string or rubber tourniquets to be used, this cuts off blood flow completely and may result in amputation of the affected limb.
No electric shock, this method is under study and has yet to be proven effective. It could harm the victim.
No incision in the bite site. Such measures have NOT been proven useful and causes needless additional injury, loss of blood, infection, waste of time.
Do not burn the wound, as it would not have any effect on the venom, which has already entered the bloodstream.
Do not suck the wound with mouth. A suction device may be applied over the bite to help draw venom out of wound without making cuts.
Potassium permanganate should never be used.
The venom apparatus reaches the highest development in snakes and is a weapon for capturing prey, defense and a digestive aid. The salivary secretion of the harmless snakes is equally effective against their prey species. Snake venom is a cocktail of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of different proteins and enzymes. Many of these proteins are harmless but a percentage of them are toxins. The makeup of these toxins varies widely from species to species. This complexity accounts for the widely differing effects of snakebite.
Venoms are rich in hydrolithic enzymes, a complex mix of polypeptides, nucleases, peptidases, etc., which help digest the snake's prey. Some of them also enhance or contribute to the toxic effect of the venom. As early as 1949 it was shown that an enzyme from the Bothrops species produces a vasodilation resulting from the production of a hypotensor neuropeptide, bradykinin. This had important consequences for man leading to drugs for the control of blood pressure.
Anti-venoms were first produced a century or more ago. Albert Calmette demonstrated that it was possible to “hyper-immunize” an animal against snakebite by graduated and increased regular dosage administered in that animal with the venom of snake. He further demonstrated that a second animal could be saved after snakebite by introducing the serum of the immunized creature. This discovery is still the basis of the production of modern anti-venoms.
A few modern modifications have been introduced–such as the neutralization of the venom with formaldehyde before use on the animal. This removes a lot of the earlier suffering such animals endured. The animal of choice is the horse. Increasing doses of venom are injected until the animal becomes hyper-immunized and thereafter blood is drawn and the serum removed. The rest of the blood is transfused back into the animal.
The serum then passes through various stages of refinement before it is released for use on humans. These anti-venoms are very safe–however they are an animal protein derivative and a small percentage of people may be sensitive to it. They display a hyper-allergic reaction which leads to anaphylaxes which may be another complication. However, in a hospital situation a cocktail of anti-histamines and hydro-cortisones would be administered prophylactically to avoid it. If the time and condition of the snakebite victim permits, a small test sample of antivenom is administered and the reaction to it noted before a full dose is injected or preferably dripped into the patient in an intravenous solution.
The production of serum from a single venom is known as a “monovalent” anti-venom and is efficacious only on the snakebite of that species of snake from which the venom comes. When a cocktail of venoms is used in the hyper-immunisation process the serum produced is a “polyvalent” serum and is effective against a range of venoms. However the addition of each venom causes a loss of efficiency and potency in the anti-venom as a whole. However, in India , the polyvalent serum administration is the only choice available.
The anti-venom serum commonly available in India is of the polyvalent type (made from the venom of the `Big Four' – Cobra, Common Krait, Russell's Viper, and Saw Scaled Viper) and is supposed to be available in most primary health centres and hospitals.
WARNING: This information is just to help you understand snakebite emergencies and how to manage them as a layman. We hold no responsibility whatsoever for any injury or harm done. This knowledge is the result of serious research by many well qualified people and no single person could claim credit or responsibility for it. Our endeavour is just to make it available to common man to understand the basics of snakes & snakebite.
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