Snake Bite- Types, Effects And Treatment.
All persons bitten by a snake have an immediate and great fear of poisoning. They may know that the health worker has an injection called antivenin to act against the poison. The antivenin itself can cause a reaction in some cases and it is quite expensive to produce, and store and should not be wasted on cases that do not need it.
PEOPLE BITTEN BY NON-POISONOUS SNAKES
For instance in the African continent, many countries their have over 100 types of snakes but not more than 10 are poisonous.
- The African beauty snake- having stripe red, black and yellow down the length of its body, except for a spotted pattern around the head and the neck.
- The African green snake- this is bright green in color, thin like a finger and up to 3 feet in length.
Most of these snakes sometimes approach residential areas or dwelling areas to look for lizards, wall geckoes, mice or frogs. They are not dangerous and they rarely bites humans and even if they do, they have no poisonous fangs. With a non-poisonous snakes there are no fang marks.
Fang marks are dots which are found on the body after being bitten by a snake. The bite of a poisonous snake leaves marks of the 2 fangs and at rare times, other little marks made by the teeth.
PEOPLE BITTEN BY POISONOUS SNAKES
The fangs are like hollows or injection needles. The poisonous snakes must sink them into its victim and inject the poison through them before poisoning can take place. In many cases, the amount of poison is small and of no danger to life. 95 out of 100 persons survive snake bite even without antivenin. Some types of snakes do have fangs but their venom causes only local poisoning with pain and swelling around the bite. But not general poisoning of the whole body.
When general poisoning of the whole body occur, it may come on within half an hour or over several days. Poisonous snakes are:
- Viper : The venom of a viper causes bleeding from the gums and from the fang marks and elsewhere, with much pain and swelling around the bitten part.
- Cobra : The venom of a cobra causes increasing weakness, difficulty in keeping the eyelids open or in swallowing and eventually paralysis.
Poisonous snakes are divided by sizes which are of into three groups : the long, the small and the fat. The long is one and half meters ( five to six feet), the small is half meter ( one and half feet), the fat ( just like the arm).
SNAKES AND THE EFFECTS OF THEIR BITE
- BLACK COBRA OR GREEN MAMBA : These snakes are up to one meter long and their bite is dangerous and can cause weakness. In this case, an antivenin is needed.
- PUFF ADDER OR GABON VIPER : The bite of these types of snake is also dangerous which causes bleeding. Antivenin is needed in this situation.
- CARPET VIPER, NIGHT ADDER, BURROWING VIPER : These snakes causes local pain and swelling only. Antivenin is not needed. Only the carpet viper snake bite needs an antivenin.
Note that the carpet viper does not have any mark on its head but spots on the belly side while the night adder has no spot on the belly side but has a v-shaped head.
TREATMENT FOR POISONOUS SNAKEBITE
- Make sure that you do not move the bitten part and also stay quiet because the more you the bitten part, the faster the poison will spread all over the body. If the bite is on the foot, the person should not walk at all. Call for medical help.
- Make sure you wrap the bitten area with a wide elastic bandage or clean cloth to show the spread of poison. Keeping the arm or leg very still, wrap it tightly, but not so tight because it stops the pulse at the wrist or on top of the foot. If you cannot feel the pulse, loosen the bandage a little.
- Wind the bandage over the hands or foot and up the whole arm or leg. Make sure you can still feel the pulse.
- Then put on a splint to splint to prevent the limb from moving.
- Carry the person on a stretcher if possible to the nearest health center. If you can also take the snake , because different snakes require different antivenins (antitoxin). If an antivenin is needed, leave the bandage on until the injection is ready and take all precautions for allergic shock. If there is no antivenin, remove the bandage.
- Give acetaminophen (paracetamol), not aspirin for pain. If possible, give tetanus vaccine. If the bite becomes infected, give penicillin.
- Ice helps to reduce pain and also slow the poison. Wrap the arm or leg with a plastic sheet and thick cloth. The pack crushed ice around it. Be careful when adding ice because too much cold can damage the skin or flesh. If it gets so cold it aches, let the person decide when to remove the ice for a few minutes.
Poisonous snakebite is dangerous. Make sure you send for medical. Never drink alcohol after a snakebite. It makes things worse.
Lets talk about other bites and stings from few other creatures like scorpion, caterpillars and spiders.
Scorpion stings are very painful but are not usually dangerous, except occasionally to children. Take aspirin and if possible put ice on the sting. ( Emetine injected around the sting greatly reduces pain). For the numbness and pain that sometimes last weeks or months, hot compresses may be helpful.
SOME HAIRY CATERPILLARS
If the hairs on the back of some caterpillars are touched, a person will feel a stinging pain and develop a local rash. However, this is not serious and it goes after a few hours. Relief can be obtained with cortico-steroid ointment or antihistamine tablets.
The majority of spider bites including that of the tarantula are painful but not dangerous. The bite of a few kinds of spiders such as the black widow and related species can make an adult fall ill. They can be dangerous for a small child. A black widow bite often causes extreme pain in the stomach muscles. Sometimes this is confused with appendicitis.
Give aspirin and look for medical help. The most useful medicines are not found in village stores. ( injection of 10 percent calcium gluconate, 10 ml. injected intravenously very slowly over a 10 minute period helps to reduce the muscular spasms. Also diazepam may be helpful if the signs of shock develop, treat for allergic shock. Injections of cortisone may be needed in children.