Snake Bites

Tue May 14, 2013 3:28 pm

Snake bite myths busted

April 23rd, 2013

By Johan Marais

It’s been a particularly busy snakebite season, with the main culprits being the Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica), the Puff Adder (Bitis arietans arietans) and the Stiletto Snake (Atractaspis bibronii). As snakebites are not reported anywhere it is always difficult to obtain information about bites unless something appears in the popular press or on one of the social networks. I am also in touch with a number of doctors and hospitals that feed through information.
The biggest culprit when it comes to snakebites in southern Africa is the Mozambique Spitting Cobra. This is mostly because it’s a very active snakes that goes hunting for food and often ends up in suburban gardens. Disturbingly, many get bitten in their houses, often while asleep. Nobody quite knows why – its’ most likely that the snakes end up indoors by accident. They hunt for food, get to a wall and turn right or left, then get to a gap under a door and accidentally enter. But the real puzzle is why so many people are being bitten while asleep. One theory is that people move around a lot while sleeping and that the snake then bites in self-defence. Another theory is that the cobras smell people in the dark, not quite knowing how big a warm-blooded prey they are dealing with, the bite is a feeding–response bite. Such bites are always worse as a fair amount of venom is injected as opposed to a defensive bite during which the snake may inject no venom or very little.
Not all bites result in death, however. Often, bites like my Puff Adder bite get a lot of press coverage, and people quickly get a skewed picture of the situation. It also taints our approach to first aid treatment.
The vast majority of victims are laborers that work barefoot in fields and have very little access to medical care or ambulance services. It often takes the victims several hours to get to a clinic or doctor and they seldom know what snake was responsible.
Still, the identity of the snake is not vital in treatment. While it helps to know what one was bitten by, the physician should treat the symptoms and not a specific kind of venom.
These rural cases seldom make it into the press, and Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) bites are also seldomly reported, either because these nervous but dangerous snakes are good at avoiding people, or that victims actually die before they get to major hospitals and such deaths are never properly reported.
Worldwide there are in the region of five million snakebites a year with around 100 000 deaths. One paper talks about 6500 bites annually in southern Africa but that could be much higher – we just don’t have the data.

Re: Bitten by Mozambique Spitting Cobra while asleep

Tue May 14, 2013 6:12 pm

Scary stuff!! O-/ O-/

Re: Bitten by Mozambique Spitting Cobra while asleep

Tue May 14, 2013 10:16 pm

Glad I read this AFTER I came back from SA. Doubt I'd have slept if I'd read this before.

Man dies following black mamba bite

Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:53 pm

Man dies following black mamba bite

Posted: April 8, 2015

EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: Mpumalanga News

A man in his his early 30s was killed after he was bitten by a black mamba. According to an eyewitness the man was with others in a field when the slithering creature surprised them. “I think the snake got defensive when they tried to kill it. They then tried to run away when they saw it becoming too vicious and unfortunately the man was bitten,” said the witness.

Local police were called and the man was rushed to hospital but he was certified dead on arrival. According to the police a search for the snake was conducted and it was found and taken to the local police station.

Here are tips from Siyabona Africa Nature on what to do if you encounter a snake in the bush.

*When hiking in the bush it is important that you do not pick up, poke or provoke any snake that you come across, even if it appears to be dead – some snakes such as the Rinkhals play dead, and can strike if disturbed.

*If you discover a snake, do not approach it closely. If you step on a snake or are very close to a puff adder then move away quickly.

*If the snake is only about a meter away, freeze at first and see the snakes reaction – it will likely look for an escape route. If it is cornered, back away slowly. If you move slowly you are not perceived as a threat and the snake is less likely to strike.

*Observe the snake. If the snake stays slithering on the ground it will likely move away and not strike. If the snake rears up like a cobra and flattens its neck to form a hood then it is aggressive and is likely to strike and you need to act with caution. Pythons and adders move forward in a straight line, other snakes move using side-to-side undulations.

Treatment of snake bite

If you are bitten by a neurotoxic snake such as a cobra or mamba:

* Stay calm and breathe gently.

* Immediately apply a crepe bandage firmly around the wound, as if for a muscle sprain. This will reduce the amount of venom entering the bloodstream but should not cut off circulation.

* Do not apply a tourniquet.

* Never try and suck the venom out.

*Transport the person to hospital as soon as possible as these snakes have potent venom and anti-venom will be needed.

If you are bitten by a cytotoxic snake such as an adder:

* Drink plenty of fluid unless you have trouble swallowing.

* Apply a sterile dressing to the wound.

* Never try and suck the venom out with your mouth.

* Do not squeeze the bite.

* Do not apply a tight bandage or tourniquet.

* Transport the person to hospital as soon as possible.

Re: Man dies following black mamba bite

Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:09 pm

Thanks, Flutts! O0

Another good old piece of advice is to step onto rocks when hiking, not over them. Sounds silly, but actually happened to me once as a kid! :shock:

Re: Man dies following black mamba bite

Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:57 pm

oups 0*\
and I can't still understand why people walk bare foot almost everywhere O-/

Re: Man dies following black mamba bite

Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:50 am

nan wrote:and I can't still understand why people walk bare foot almost everywhere O-/
O** Like me nan O**

Re: Man dies following black mamba bite

Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:39 am

Richprins wrote:
Another good old piece of advice is to step onto rocks when hiking, not over them.


My grandfather always insisted on stepping on rocks until one day a cobra popped out the gap between 2 rocks and ended up between his legs. He didn’t even know it was there. My father shot it between his legs just before it latched onto his private parts.

Grandfather was highly excited until he spotted the snake lol

Re: Man dies following black mamba bite

Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:44 am

=O:

Re: Man dies following black mamba bite

Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:12 am

yes, like you... but please put shoes at your little rats ;-)