First Aid treatment for a Snake Bite

There over 30 venomous snakes found in Vietnam including: Cobras, Vipers, Krait, Keelbacks and Coral Snakes. Along with the Cobras species, the Viper family of snakes are amongst the world’s most venomous and dangerous. Their proximity to humans is based upon the waste produced by man that attracts rodents, which is their main food source.

Recognition

Signs and symptoms:

  • Two puncture wounds
  • Swelling and redness around the wounds
  • Pain at the bite site
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomitingand nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating and salivating
  • Numbness in the face and limbs

Note: Some venomous snakes also cause symptoms specific to their type.

Treatment

  • Call 115 and get emergency medical help as soon as possible
  • Note the time of the bite
  • Keep the casualty calm and still as movement can cause the venom to travel more quickly through the body
  • Position the casualty so that the bite is at or below the level of the heart
  • Remove constricting clothing and jewellery from the surrounding area of the bite in case of swelling
  • Remove shoes if the leg or foot is bitten
  • Do not allow the casualty to walk, transport by vehicle
  • Clean the wound, but do not flush with water
  • Cover with a clean, dry dressing
  • Take a picture of the snake if possible, do not handle or kill it.

The severity depends on the location of the bite and the age and health of the victim. If the bite is not serious, the doctor may simply clean the wound and give the victim a tetanus vaccine. If the situation is life threatening, the doctor may administer antivenom. This is a substance created with snake venom to counter the snake bite symptoms, which is injected into the casualty. The sooner the antivenom is used, the more effective it will be.

First aid myths

There are also several outdated first aid techniques that are now believed to be unhelpful or even harmful:

  • Do not use a tourniquet
  • Do not cut into the snake bite
  • Do not use a cold compress or ice on the bite
  • Do not give the person any medications unless directed by a doctor
  • Do not raise the area of the bite above the victim’s heart
  • Do not attempt to suck the venom out by mouth
  • Do not use a pump suction device. These devices were formerly recommended for pumping out snake venom, but it’s now believed that they are more likely to do harm than good.
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