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Venomenous bites
Snakes and scorpions with more or less venomenous bites are found i many contries in bot tropical and temperate areas.

Bites and stings
  • Snake bites are usually a risk primarily for people working in fields and forests
  • Snakes usually do not seek humans in huts and houses
  • Snakes bite, when they feel threatened
  • Unprovoked attacks on humans are very rare.

    Snake bites can be avoided by:
  • Move slowly through high grass etc. to allow the snakes ample time to escape
  • Use boots and long trousers when moving through the terrain outside roads and paths
  • Move slowly if you observe a snake close by.

    First aid for snake and scorpion bites.
  • Remain calm. In many cases the snake or scorpion did not inject any venom
  • Avoid unnecessary movements. Keep still after the bite and especially do not run or walk. Movements increase the blood circulation and help any venom spreading more rapidly in the body.
    If bitten in an arm or leg, keep the extremity completely still.
  • Arrange transport to a doctor or a hospital if possible. The transport should be passive, i.e. the bitten person should be transported.
  • If the snake has been killed bring it with you for identification.
    Dead snaked are transported over a stick or in a bag. Never touch an apparently dead snake.
  • If the patient starts vomiting, place him with his mouth downwards.
  • Pain can be alleviated by paracetamol.

    Do not:
  • attempt to suck the venom out by mouth or a suction device
  • make cut in the skin around the bite or amputate for instance a bitten finger
  • place tight tourniquets around a bitten limp over the site of the bite. Tight tourniquets can endanger the blood circulation and cause gangrene or permanent nerve damages, increased swollenness and increase the local damage of the snake venom.
  • The only instance where a tourniquet may be used is after bites of a snake with lethal central nervous system poison (king cobra, mamba and sea snakes) and only if the patients can not be placed under proper medical treatment within two hours after the bite.

  • Antivenom should only be used with caution and only under skilled medical supervision.
  • Antivenom contains purified antibodies from animals immunised with venom, and may therefore cause severe allergic reactions.
  • Antivenom is therefore only used when systemic reactions are suspected, and not with local reactions like swollenness and pain are seen
  • Antivenom need to be kept refrigerated and can therefore not be brought from home by the traveller.

    Edited: 26 December 2008