Snakebite: Keep calm and do not panic is the fist step

People are more likely to encounter snakes at their house premises during the rainy season.

District medical officer (health) D A V Ramdas has listed out the steps that people should take if they were to suffer snakebite.

Venomous snakes

Check the nature of the wound to identify whether the snake was venomous or not. When venomous snakes bite, two puncture wounds can be seen. The distance between the two wounds would depend on the size of the snake. Though other teeth of the snake can also leave a mark, only the venomous fangs will be seen as puncture wounds. If the snake is venomous, the victim will suffer severe pain. This could be mild or severe, depending on what kind of snake and the amount of venom that has entered the body.

However, there is no need to locate the snake or worry about whether it is venomous or not. Head to the hospital, where a proper medical diagnosis can identify the snake.

Immediate steps to be taken in case of snakebite:

» Do not panic. The victim should not try to run or make any abrupt movements. This will only cause the venom to spread rapidly in the body.

» Do not try to squeeze the blood out from the wound.

» Do not let the patient lie down. Position the patient such that the wound will be below the heart.

» Immediately take the patient to a hospital with anti-snake venom (ASV).

Venomous snakes in Kerala

There are 101 species of snakes in Kerala. Of this, only 10 are venomous. Even in that five are sea snakes. Not all snakebites are fatal to humans either. In short, you need to be wary of only five snakes on land.

The venom of king cobra, cobra and common krait directly affect the nervous system, i.e., it is neurotoxic. The venom of a viper will affect the blood circulation, i.e., it is haemotoxic.

If the nervous system is affected, the victim will suffer from blurred vision, shortness of breath and stomach pain.

If blood circulation is affected, the victim will feel dizzy and there will be swelling around the wound. Also, it can cause bleeding.

Beware of quacks

When the fangs do not deeply pierce the body or when the snake bites after catching its prey, fatal amounts of venom are unlikely to enter the body. However, these two mild scenarios of snakebite are misused by quacks. Common folks are easily taken in by such people. The snakebite cannot be treated by keeping a stone on the body or giving herbs. Anti-venom is the only treatment.

Proper treatment

Venom of cobra, viper, common krait, and saw-scaled vipers can cause human deaths. Proteins form the venom in snakes.

When the venom from these snakes are injected into a horse, antibodies are produced in its body. This is then separated from the blood and purified to form the anti-venom.

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