5 Tips for surviving a potentially deadly snakebite

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File Photo

Waiting for an ambulance to reach you‚ running around in a panic and waiting for your symptoms to show before acting – these are all things you should NOT do when you have been the victim of a snakebite.

This according to snake expert Chris Hobkirk‚ who owns the largest venom extraction facility in the country‚ based in White River‚ Mpumalanga.

A Nelspruit woman‚ who was trained in snake handling by Hobkirk‚ Amanda Bloem‚ has recently survived a black mamba bite. Bloem‚ 39‚ said she experienced pins and needles in her face and lips and felt “stoned” about half an hour after she was bitten. Her husband Barend‚ also a snake catcher‚ then rushed her to a hospital where she was treated.

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Hobkirk said that it is not wise to wait until after one’s symptoms begin to show to get help.

A black mamba’s venom is neurotoxic‚ which means it kills faster than other types of venom.

When treating a neurotoxic snakebite‚ “you’ve got to make your decision quickly‚” Hobkirk said.

Here are Hobkirk’s five tips for surviving a venomous snake sinking its fangs into you:

1.There is nothing you can do on site – get to a hospital.

2.Don’t wait for an ambulance to get to you — “you’re gonna die”.

3.Phone someone close to you and tell them which hospital you are on your way to so that they can find you if you pass out on the way.

4.Remain physically calm and immobile. The more you move‚ the faster the venom will kill you.

5.Do not cut‚ suck or put ice on the wound. These home remedies are ineffective and waste time (see tip 1).

Bloem’s immune system was able to produce enough antibodies to overcome her snakebite without being anti-venom treatment being administered.

According to Hobkirk‚ this is the case with 90% of snakebites in South Africa. Only 10% of bites actually need anti-venom‚ he said.

Many factors‚ like the health of the victim and the amount of venom the snake has chosen to inject‚ determines the speed at which venom acts.

Some bites are “dry” bites‚ meaning no venom was injected at all.

It is best to act immediately and wait for symptoms to appear at a hospital‚ rather than at home‚ Hobkirk said.



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