PDH Issues Snake Bite Warning

Monday, 17 November 2014
Portland District Health is warning local residents to be on the lookout for snakes and to be prepared in case of bites.

Director of Medical Services Dr Brendan Condon said that as the weather starts to warm up, snakes are becoming more active in the region.

It's timely to think about safely co-habiting with our reptilian neighbours, Dr Condon said.

So far this year the Portland community has been safe from snake bite. There have been two people present at the hospital emergency department with suspected snake bites but both were negative.

Dr Condon said most cases of snakebite can be avoided by following simple rules such as leaving snakes alone, wearing adequate clothing and stout shoes in snake country, not putting hands in hollow logs or thick grass without prior inspection, carefully inspect the ground on the other side of logs, keeping barns and sheds free of mice and rats, and keeping grass well cut.

All snake bites should be regarded as being dangerous.

Dr Condon said if a suspected snake bite does occur, people should stay calm and call for help, do not wash the bite site, and to minimise the movement of the venom around the body until the victim is in a hospital by applying a firm bandage, or suitable alternative, to the bitten area and limb, and to immobilise the victim.

It is recommended to apply a broad 15cm pressure bandage over the bite site as soon as possible. There is no need to take off clothing, as the movement of doing so will promote the movement of venom.

If the bandages and splint have been applied correctly, they will be comfortable and may be left on for several hours. They should not be taken off until the patient has reached medical care.

The doctor will decide when to remove the bandages

Venom is injected deeply so there is no benefit in cutting or sucking the bite. A tourniquet is not an effective way to restrict venom movement.

After the pressure bandage and splint are in place, victims should be kept as still as possible and taken to a medical facility.

This information has been sourced from the Victorian Poisons Information Centre website, where more detailed advice can be found- http://www.austin.org.au/poisons

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