There are more than 3,000 species of snakes on our planet. In the United States, nearly 20% of them are venomous and therefore, potentially dangerous for humans. Each state has its own poisonous species (except for Alaska and Hawaii), and almost all of them belong to the same family: the Viperidae (Pit-Viper).
Every year, there are about 45,000 snake bites and 100 people die from them. (Rattlesnake bites are the most dangerous)
A bite can be more or less serious depending on the species of snake. No matter which snake has bitten you, it is mandatory to treat the bite quickly.
Whether it is a venomous or non-venomous snake, a snake bite is not to be taken lightly because it can put your health at risk.
If it is a venomous snake bite, the venom will quickly spread throughout your body, causing paralysis and even death if not treated quickly.
For a non-venomous snake bite, the consequences are less severe. However, the bite must still be treated to avoid any risk of infection.
Generally, snake attacks are more frequent during hot days because they are more active during this period. In winter, most of them hibernate. That’s why you should be extra careful when you walk in their territory during forest walks.
In this article, we will teach you what to do in case of a snake bite.
A snake does not bite without reason. In fact, a snakebite on a human being usually happens when it feels in danger or when it can no longer flee and must defend itself. The snake bite is done with the help of its fangs that pierce the skin.
As mentioned earlier, few snakes are venomous. Therefore, most bites do not contain poison. For venomous bites, the danger will depend on the amount of venom injected as well as the species of snake, the area of the bite or the physical condition of the person bitten.
Snake Bite Venom
Snake neurotoxic venom is a substance modified by the salivary glands. It is composed mainly of enzymes that play an important role, although the lethal properties come from polypeptides. Once injected into the body, the enzymes attack the physiological receptors.
Snake bite symptoms and effects
If the victim receives antivenom within 3 hours of the bite, hospitalization will last approximately 2 days If the injection of antivenom serum. If the anti-venom is injected within 4 to 5 hours, a blood test will be necessary to verify that there is no longer a risk of coagulation. If no treatment is performed, serious complications may occur, namely:
- Pulmonary edema
- Blood clotting
- Drop in blood pressure
- Neurological and kidney problems
Snake Bite First Aid
Here is a video explaining first aid in case of snake bite
If a person is bitten by a snake, here are the first aid steps to take:
- Take charge of the victim
Start by reassuring the victim, avoid any exertion as this can accelerate the spread of venom in the body. To avoid accelerating the spread of the venom, make sure that the bitten area is below the level of the heart. Also remove all objects (bracelets, clothes, shoes …) that could compress the infected area to prevent it from swelling.
- Call the emergency services
As soon as the bite occurs, you should absolutely call the emergency services as soon as possible. If possible, do this step at the same time as the one above. Once the medical service is informed, give them as much information as possible about the snake, so that they can determine if it is a venomous species or not (it is best to recognize the species directly) and prepare the right antivenin accordingly.
- Clean the wound
While waiting for help to arrive, gently clean the infected area with an antiseptic to remove as much residue as possible and avoid infection. Then cover it with a clean cloth, without compressing it.
- Monitor symptoms
Check the victim’s vitals and symptoms regularly. Monitor breathing, consciousness, body temperature and pulse. This information will be needed by the medical staff when they arrive in the emergency services to explain the changes in the victim’s vital signs.
If the victim becomes pale, elevate his or her legs above the level of the heart to promote blood flow so that the victim can regain consciousness. Also, make sure the victim does not become dehydrated.
Snake Bite Treatment
Once at the hospital, a doctor will examine the victim’s lesion and will determine, if the size of the swelling is too great, to inject an antivenom.
How to identify a snake bite ?
A snake bite usually results in two small lesions. In case of infection, an edema will appear within 15 to 20 minutes after the bite and it will gradually spread over a larger area. The infected limb may become purple or ecchymotic. Within 4 hours of the bite, local pain and bruising may appear.
Things not to do after a snake bite
- Do not use a tourniquet: indeed, toxins may naturally accumulate under the tourniquet, leading to a possible cardiac arrest when removing it.
- Do not approach the snake: even if it is important to identify the species of snake to determine the antivenom to administer, do not approach it because if it has already felt threatened, it will not hesitate to attack again if necessary.
- Do not clean the wound with cold water: it will only make the wound worse
- Do not suck the venom out with your mouth: The slightest mouth wound will cause an infection in your body.
- Do not give any medication: Without the doctor’s permission, do not give any medication as it could make the situation worse.
- Never lower the level of the lesion below the level of the heart, except in an extreme emergency.
- Avoid any movement on the part of the victim: movement accelerates the envenomation. It is therefore important that the victim makes as little effort as possible.
Preventing a snakebite
A few simple tips can help you avoid snakebites.
- Wear high shoes and long pants
- Use a walking stick to make noise in tall grass. Most of these reptiles prefer to flee if they hear noise.