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      SNAKE BITES

                                       

 

 

 

                 

       

     Copperhead bite - bruises                Copperhead bite                               Cobra bite

 

                                         

Snakebite -puncture wounds

 

 

 

                                                                                        

 

                 Clean the wound with soap and water                       Constricting band 2 inches above bite

 

 

General  Signs and symptoms

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Fang marks that are often little more than a small scratch or abrasion but may be actual punctures

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There may NOT be two fang marks present at the bite site -- often, only one fang makes contact

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Swelling and pain at the wound site

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Continued oozing at the wound site

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Weakness, dizziness, or faintness

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Minty, metallic, or rubber taste in mouth and lips

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Sweating and/or chills

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Thirst

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Nausea and vomiting

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Numbness and tingling around the face and head (a classic symptom)

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Diarrhea

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Rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure

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Bloody urine and gastrointestinal hemorrhage (late stages)

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Bruising

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Dead tissue around the wound

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Shallow respirations, progressing to respiratory failure    

  
  

 

 

 

 Steps in management of snake bite

  

 Get the victim away from the snake.

 

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Check the snakebite for puncture wounds. If one or two fang markings are visible, the bite is from a poisonous pit viper.

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Remember what the snake looks like. The doctor will need to know this to provide the proper treatment.

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Keep the victims calm, lying down, and with the bitten arm or leg below the level of his heart to slow the blood flowing from the wound to the heart. The more the victim moves, the faster the venom spreads through the body.

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Clean the wound. Be sure to wipe away from the bite. This keeps any venom on the unbroken skin around the bite from being wiped into the wound.

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Watch for general symptom (i.e. sharp pain, bruising, swelling around the bite, weakness, shortness of breath, blurred vision, drowsiness, or vomiting.

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Get the victim to the hospital as soon as possible.

 

 Constricting band

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If any of the above mentioned symptoms occur within 30 minutes from the time of the bite, and you are over two hours away from medical help, tie a constricting band (3/4 to 1 1/2 inches wide) two inches above the bite or above the swelling.

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The band needs to be loose enough to slip a finger underneath it.

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The band slows blood flow away from the bite, keeping the venom from reaching the heart.

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The band must be applied within 30 minutes after the time of the bite to be effective.

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If the swelling spreads, move the band so that it is two inches above the swelling.

 

 

 Pit Viper

 

                                         

 

 The effects of its venom

 

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The pit viper's venom poisons the blood.

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Once the venom enters the bloodstream, it starts destroying red blood cells. This causes decreased oxygen supply to the body because red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to all parts of the body.

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The venom interferes with all the body systems because of the reduced oxygen supply. As the venom begins to take effect, the victim may panic.

 

 

 

 King Cobra

 

                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The effects of its venom

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The bite of a cobra snake poisons the nerves. The wound mark of a cobra snake is different from that of a pit viper. It causes a bruise at the site of the wound.

 

 Coral snake

 The effects of its venom

  • The bite of a coral snake poisons the nerves. The wound mark of a coral snake is different from that of a pit viper. The coral snake chews instead of piercing the skin. It causes a bruise at the site of the wound. A coral snake bite does not need a constricting band because its venom does not enter the bloodstream

General Do's

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Remove everyone from risk.

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Calm the patient.  This is far more important than you may think!  Nearly all snakebites are successfully treated in hospitals.  Most poisonous snake bites are not fatal.  Panic only increases danger to the victim by increasing heart rate, and it spurs carelessness among everyone.

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Use your snakebite kit immediately.  The first few minutes are the most effective for venom removal.  Follow the instructions provided in the kit.

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Seek medical help at once.  Recent studies indicate the single most effective thing you can do is calmly transport the victim to a medical facility.  In most cases, severe complications DO NOT occur until several hours after the bite.  If you're deep in the wild, make wise use of your time, but don't rush.

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Remove tight watches, sleeves, jewelry, etc.  Cut these items off if you have to.  Note that rings and bracelets are especially hazardous as they will severely restrict blood flow to their particular extremity once swelling begins.  Amputation is a likely outcome if these items are not removed.

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While enroute to a hospital, apply a loose yet constricting band between the bite and the heart. This is NOT a tourniquet and should not be any tighter than a semi-tight watch band.

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Keep the patient still if possible and immobilize the injured limb with a splint.

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Treat the site like a puncture wound.  If possible, wash the wound with copious amounts of soap and water.  Once at the hospital, a doctor will likely give the patient a tetanus shot in addition to other treatments.

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Keep the affected extremity at heart level or lower.

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Avoid alcohol.  It only increases metabolism and impairs judgment

 

 

 

General Don'ts

 

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DO NOT GIVE ANTIVENIN IN THE FIELD!  Many snakebite victims experience allergic reactions to antivenin and this potential requires that the person giving the antivenin must be ready and able to provide advanced heart and lung support -- something only available at a hospital via trained medical personnel, sophisticated machines, and powerful drugs.  Further, more than six vials are often needed to treat one bite.  More drawbacks come into play when the detrimental effects of heat and agitation (due to carrying the vials in a backpack) are considered.

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Don't kill the snake!  It was only defending itself and such an attempt may produce yet another bite.

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Don't try to capture the snake -- it's not necessary.  There are only two types of venom -- neurotoxin and hemotoxin (antivenin for pit viper bites is the same for all species).  Based on the geographic area and the patient's symptoms, a doctor will usually know which type of antivenin to use.

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NEVER cut an "X" at the bite site.  This is ineffective and increases trauma in the area of the wound.

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NEVER suck out venom with the mouth.  The person sucking poison from the wound with his/her mouth will absorb the poison through his/her gums the same way a person absorbs nicotine from chewing tobacco.  Further, the human mouth carries at least 42 species of pathogen and this action could give the snakebite victim a major infection.

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Don't excite the victim or allow him/her to walk if avoidable.  Doing so will increase venom circulation.

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Never apply a tourniquet, constricting band, or "Australian Wrap," unless you are well-trained in its use.  As with snakebite kits, recent studies suggest this is of no help and even detrimental.  (If, for some reason you do apply one, write a capital T (for tourniquet) on the victim's forehead AND the TIME you applied it.  Relax it for 1 minute every 15 minutes.)

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Do not apply ice, a cold pack, or freon spray to the wound.  This does not retard the spread of venom.

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Never apply electrical stimulation from any device in an attempt to retard or reverse venom spread.  Studies show this does NOT retard or reverse the spread of venom.

 

 

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