You are on page 1of 6

Know About Snakebite

Total ignorance prevails about snakes and snakebite in India and because of the deep-rooted superstitions many precious lives
are lost and snakes are hounded and killed.
About 25,000 to 40,000 people reportedly die of snakebite in India every year (However, the unreported cases may be even
more), mostly in rural India ; yet there is no organised effort to cope with the emergencies arising out of snakebites, especially
in rural India .

There are two important aspects of snakebite management, one is the first-aid, basically management of snakebite victim, and
then the timely medical management (antivenom serum therapy).

Since rural people have to rush to nearby towns and cities to get medical support, precious time is lost in travelling and in
organising transport. If one could understand about snakes, prevention of snakebite, the proper first-aid and transportation to
the proper medical facility, the fatalities due to snakebites could be reduced effectively.

In absence of any authentic information about snakes & snakebite for common man to deal with snakebite emergencies in India
, there are many myths about snakes and snakebites. The snake charmers and feature films with their vested interests, have
been adding fuel to the firewith misleading stories about snakes and snakebite.
As a result, people have more trust on false claims of treatment and most of the times people fall prey to quacks' treatment. Part
of the problem when someone is bitten, is the element of surprise, as people are usually not trained to deal with a snakebite
emergency. Preparation which includes knowing in advance about the basic knowledge about snakebite and how to get to the
nearest hospital– could greatly reduce anxiety and lead to more effective care. The best solution is to educate people -
disseminate information about snakes and snakebite - what are snakes, when and why do they bite, how to avoid getting bitten,
what to do when bitten, etc. It helps to understand that:

• All snakes are not venomous – so every snakebite is not going to result in death – it would save people from quacks.
And reduce the amount of panic and chaos.
• Even a venomous bite is not always fatal – because the severity of snakebite depends on many factors like the size of
the snake, whether the bite could be completed, whether it was a drybite or not, the age, physique and affected limb of
the victim.
• First Aid would enable a person to buy more time to reach medical aid on time.
• The only cure which is available is anti-venom serum injection and not quacks.
• First Aid - if not done properly could cause more harm than benefit.

Save the rural innocent/simple people from snake-charmers and quacks.


How to Avoid Getting Bitten

• Avoid stepping out in the dark, especially during the monsoons, without a torch and boots.

• While walking through knee-high-grass, disturb the grass ahead with a stick to ensure that there are no snakes.

• On trekking and camping trips, while picking up a tree-bark or fire-wood for cooking, be careful about snakes, which may be
hiding beneath.

• Wear leather ankle shoes for outdoor activities.

bush or small tree) touching the walls of the house. to stop the gap. It is the most suitable place for snakes. • Drain-pipe openings of your kitchen and bathrooms should have fixed mesh caps (not hinged) to deny easy entry to snakes. • Disinfactants with pungent smells. 2) Attention!!! Use torchlight at night – all local poisonous snakes are active in the evening and at . It is an easy way for a snake to make entry into your house. • Snakes love dark and cool places! Eliminate such areas at home. Make yourself familiar with the description of poisonous snakes in the place where you live. the electric switch for the bathroom is installed inside the batroom. on the outside. dead. mostly. A cut off head can keep poisonous activities for several minutes. so to prevent any snake creeping in. avoid paving with loose tiles. It gives shelter to snakes. How to Prevent a Snake Bite: 1) Any unknown snake is potentially dangerous. which can help a snake to climb to windows and any ventilators. when there is a scarcity of water. baby. do not play.• Keep your bags/haversacks and boots above the ground. • Before you wear your boots. • While rock-climbing be careful of snakes in crevices. Snakes avoid unpleasant smell. like phenyl may be regularly used to wipe the floor and in the drains. In such situation. remove all the rubbles immediately. • All windows should be fitted with mesh. • There should not be any vegetation (such as creeper. which may stray in while chasing rats or to hide in cool and dark place. • Pathways should be well lit. • The bottom of doors should have rubber lining. So do not wet the soil around tents. Preferably closed to deny entry to snakes. • Rats or other small animals are attracted to left over food at night. • Avoid rock-garden and rockery in your lawn. Snakes are likely to follow rat tracks. • Avoid making water ponds at home. • After any construction work at home. A snake can reach your bathroom via the network of drains. hold its sole from toe side and bang the heel side on the ground several times to disturb any snake or biting and stinging insects inside and let it go. Install electric switches outside the door of your bathroom. One of the best ways for snakes to make entry into your house. • During summer. • In India . one will be bitten for sure. avoid any contact with any snake including those of small size. Make sure that your leftover food is thrown far away at a designated area or buried. snakes may be attracted to cool spots near tents. lethargic. anyone visiting the bathroom has to step in dark bathroom first and if there is a snake. • Mesh in front of desert-cooler is essential. these are good overnight shelters for snakes.

In case of snakebite. If a venomous snake bites someone. rushes to the aim. do not turn your back to the snake. tall plants.night. First Aid & Treatment Snake venom is actually a kind of highly evolved salivary secretion which is used to both kill and digest prey. do not run. one should know how to administer proper first-aid to a snakebite victim. go to a hospital and get anti-venom serum. Very few venomous snakebites are fatal. just remember two things: don't panic. Just as every mosquito bite does not cause malaria.Vipers . don't do sudden movements. • Never try to assess whether it was venomous snakebite or not. • Never get into a dark bathroom. • Not all bites from venomous snakes lead to death. so every snakebite does not cause death. jhar-phoons. do the first-aid and rush the victim to the nearest hospital. • Even if in doubt about whether it is a snakebite or not. and make a strong hiss. as some snake venom (like that of common krait) does not show immediate effect even in the case of a serious bite. Pay more attention in the forest.Cobra – lifts vertically front part of the body (1/3). common krait. It would result in delaying the arrival of the patient to the hospital and is potentially dangerous for the person who will attempt killing the snake. it is wise to rush to a hospital. bend like zigzag front part of the body. without losing precious time. There are two basic types of snake venom. close to bushes. etc. Russell's viper. first switch on a light and then see around you before you enter.make a spiral from a tail. Polyvalent anti-venom serum is effective against the bites of the Big Four – cobra. 4) If you meet a snake. a well-administered first-aid is vital. the other one blood (that of vipers). and give the possibility for a snake to go away REMEMBER • As a common man. opens hood. As a layman one should treat every snakebite as venomous snakebite. Qualified doctor can diagnose observing the patient for clinical symptoms and pathologial tests. etc. makes hiss. • No attempt should be made to kill the snake to carry it along to the hospital. Don't waste precious time on quack's remedies. Venom was not made against man. 3) Snakes usually don't bite you without alarm: . herbal preparations. • Educate your children that putting one's hand into any kind of burrow could be dangerous. . saw-scaled viper. Even in the case of a full bite. tantra-mantras. many venomous snakes (and as many as 85% of snakes are non venomous) deliver only a dry bite to humans. go back slowly. One affects the nerves (venom of cobra and common krait). with appropriate first-aid. . care and treatment a snakbite victim can fully recover.

which has already entered the bloodstream. Such measures have NOT been proven useful and causes needless additi onal injury. loss of blood. no alcohol/hot beverages should be given. • Potassium permanganate should never be used. • Do not burn the wound. restrict movement. It has been identified that a suction more than 270 mmHg can initiate the flow from the puncture marks. • The limb. About Venom . the affected area may swell.The following activities are important: • Keep the victim calm. However. this method is under study and has yet to be proven effective. • DO NOT COVER THE BITE AREA AND PUNCTURE MARKS. Research has shown it to be potentially harmful. as it would not have any effect on the venom. • Assure the victim and do not let him panic. the suction should be applied within 5 minutes of the bite. • No electric shock. • Try to aspirate the venom out of the puncture marks with standard suction devices. The patient should not be allowed to exert himself in any manner. A suction device may be applied over the bite to help draw venom out of wound without making cuts. • A snakebite victim is under tremendous psychological stress. When under panic. • No electric cable. which has been affected by the bite. • Remove any rings or constricting items. infection. It is necessary to keep the patient warm. should be immobilized with splint and be kept below the level of the heart. A compression bandage (not tight) should cover the entire limb with the splint. this cuts off blood flow completely and may result in amputation of the affected limb. • The only remedy for venomous snakebite is the anti-venom serum. The wound should be gently cleaned with antiseptic. • No incision in the bite site. Some private nursing homes have also started stocking it and treat snakebite cases. • Do not suck the wound with mouth. which is available at most government hospitals and public health centers. How NOT to Treat Snakebite • No ice or any other type of cooling action on the bite. string or rubber tourniquets to be used. But. Suction instruments often are included in commercial snakebite kits. it will enhance heart rate and would circulate the venom faster in the body. It could harm the victim. waste of time.

htm . Venoms are rich in hydrolithic enzymes. The rest of the blood is transfused back into the animal. a complex mix of polypeptides. The salivary secretion of the harmless snakes is equally effective against their prey species. This discovery is still the basis of the production of modern anti-venoms. This complexity accounts for the widely differing effects of snakebite. The makeup of these toxins varies widely from species to species. Anti Venom Serum Anti-venoms were first produced a century or more ago. sometimes thousands. Some of them also enhance or contribute to the toxic effect of the venom. The serum then passes through various stages of refinement before it is released for use on humans. These anti-venoms are very safe–however they are an animal protein derivative and a small percentage of people may be sensitive to it. and Saw Scaled Viper) and is supposed to be available in most primary health centres and hospitals. We hold no responsibility whatsoever for any injury or harm done. Our endeavour is just to make it available to common man to understand the basics of snakes & snakebite. WARNING: This information is just to help you understand snakebite emergencies and how to manage them as a layman.snakecell. This knowledge is the result of serious research by many well qualified people and no single person could claim credit or responsibility for it. Many of these proteins are harmless but a percentage of them are toxins.The venom apparatus reaches the highest development in snakes and is a weapon for capturing prey. Snake venom is a cocktail of hundreds. of different proteins and enzymes. in a hospital situation a cocktail of anti-histamines and hydro-cortisones would be administered prophylactically to avoid it. in India . Russell's Viper. If the time and condition of the snakebite victim permits. which help digest the snake's prey. etc. Albert Calmette demonstrated that it was possible to “hyper- immunize” an animal against snakebite by graduated and increased regular dosage administered in that animal with the venom of snake. the polyvalent serum administration is the only choice available. bradykinin. The anti-venom serum commonly available in India is of the polyvalent type (made from the venom of the `Big Four' – Cobra. From: http://www. The production of serum from a single venom is known as a “monovalent” anti-venom and is efficacious only on the snakebite of that species of snake from which the venom comes. a small test sample of antivenom is administered and the reaction to it noted before a full dose is injected or preferably dripped into the patient in an intravenous solution. nucleases. This had important consequences for man leading to drugs for the control of blood pressure. A few modern modifications have been introduced–such as the neutralization of the venom with formaldehyde before use on the animal. Increasing doses of venom are injected until the animal becomes hyper-immunized and thereafter blood is drawn and the serum removed. Common Krait. They display a hyper-allergic reaction which leads to anaphylaxes which may be another complication. He further demonstrated that a second animal could be saved after snakebite by introducing the serum of the immunized creature. As early as 1949 it was shown that an enzyme from the Bothrops species produces a vasodilation resulting from the production of a hypotensor neuropeptide. When a cocktail of venoms is used in the hyper-immunisation process the serum produced is a “polyvalent” serum and is effective against a range of venoms.. However the addition of each venom causes a loss of efficiency and potency in the anti-venom as a whole. defense and a digestive aid. This removes a lot of the earlier suffering such animals endured. peptidases. However. However. The animal of choice is the