Surviving dog, rat and snake bites - beeline to a doctor is vital

MAN'S BEST FRIEND: Dog bites can be potentially dangerous because the dog my have rabies. Visit an emergency room after being bitten by a dog Photo: TEBOGO LETSIE
MAN'S BEST FRIEND: Dog bites can be potentially dangerous because the dog my have rabies. Visit an emergency room after being bitten by a dog Photo: TEBOGO LETSIE

FOR AS long as people and the animal kingdom have co-existed, bites have been inevitable.

The most important thing is knowing how to survive a particular bite.

Usually when one thinks of being bitten, one often envisages being devoured by a crocodile or a lion in the wild, but many toxic bites are closer to home.

Snakes can invade our homes, rats have been known to gnaw at our feet while we sleep and a mere mosquito bite can potentially see you hooked on a drip in hospital.

Would you know how to survive if you were bitten?

While there are many home remedies and advice on how to handle certain bites, how true and effective are they?

We turned to Dr Nhlanhla Mabaso for answers on how to treat various bites effectively.

SNAKE BITE

Fortunately for us in SA, we do not have a large variety of poisonous snakes. But if you are bitten by this slithering reptile, would you know how to react? Statistics have shown that the first 45 minutes after being bitten by a snake are crucial, and how you handle the situation can be the determining factor between life and death.

Remember how some people believed it was okay to suck out the poison from a snake bite? Mabaso says this is an abhorrent idea.

"Trying to extract poison from a snake bite puts you, the sucker, at risk of potentially getting the poison yourself through the mouth.

"The best thing to do after being bitten by a snake is to find a wire, rope or belt, and fasten the affected area as tightly as possible. This will potentially restrict the blood, allowing the poison not to flow to the rest of the body. All this while seeking urgent medical attention. Snake bites are not something you can treat at home, so a visit to the hospital is a must," Mabaso says.

DOG BITES

Dog bites are common and should be avoided at all costs. But, if you ever get bitten, what should you do? Mabaso says contrary to what most people believe, dog bites can be potentially dangerous . So again, a visit to the emergency room is crucial.

"It is important to clean the wound with clean water and soap and apply pressure on the wound.

Proceed to visit a doctor so they can rule out the possibility of any rabies infestation."

SPIDER BITES

"Most spider bites are not lethal, and can actually be treated at home with an anti-allergy. The severity of the bite is determined by the type of spider, which can be difficult because most spider bites happen while we sleep," he says.

To find out which spiders can cause harm, we spoke to Dr Hermann Decloudt of the Poison Centre in Cape Town, who says the three spider bites that can cause problems are:

- The Black Widow spider which can cause respiratory problems.

- The Violin spider can cause tissue damage.

- The Sac spider: Can also cause severe tissue damage.

According to Mabaso, if you experience any muscle pain, severe sweating and restlessness after being bitten by a spider, rush to the emergency room.

RAT BITE

Not every rat is as friendly and adorable as Mickey Mouse. Rats have very large teeth and know how to use them. A good bite from a hungry rat can leave you bleeding severely. Before you press the panic button, however, Mabaso says it's important to determine what kind of rat bit you.

"Domestic rat bites are not harmful and are safe to treat at home, whereas wild rats might be infested with rabies. So a visit to the doctor would be necessary."

After a bite, immediately control the bleeding by placing a rag over the bite and holding firmly for several moments until the bleeding stops. Clean the wound with an antiseptic or alcohol and cover the wound with a disposable bandage.

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