15 January 2007

Death from snake bite

It's sad to read of the death of a young man near Sydney from snakebite .

The media reports appear to have, unlike the incident about which I posted last week identified the snake correctly as an eastern brown. Unfortunately the identification didn't enable the doctors to save the man's life: after being bitten on the hand (I wonder how) he walked some distance through the bush and eventually came to a cricket ground from where he was transported to hospital.

The usual advice to people who've been bitten by a snake is, according to a toxologist quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald , to apply a broad bandage to the bitten area and remain completely still until treatment in a hospital with antivenom can be effected.

This is easier said than done, and I wonder whether there an alternative treatment suitable for for situations where it may not be feasible to wait for help to arrive. An older treatment used to be to suck the venom from the wound before it could get into the bloodstream. This is now discredited by orthodox medical opinion, but might it still be feasible in some circumstances?

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