Understanding snakes and snake bites

2017-03-01 06:01
PHOTO:suppliedAt the snake bite information morning (from left) Sabelo Zondi (Netcare 911 paramedic), Zane Barnard (snake handler), Doctor Neshalan Latchmanan (surgeon) and Zoe Roberts (Netcare 911 paramedic).

PHOTO:suppliedAt the snake bite information morning (from left) Sabelo Zondi (Netcare 911 paramedic), Zane Barnard (snake handler), Doctor Neshalan Latchmanan (surgeon) and Zoe Roberts (Netcare 911 paramedic).

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IN the event that you or someone close to you gets bitten by a snake, does not mean you will die, however­, this also should not be taken lightly either. That was the message conveyed by snake handler Zane Barnard during an information sharing session on venomous and non-venomous snakes at Netcare St Anne’s Hospital last week.

Speaking to staff and members of the public Barnard said according to statistics, chances that the bite will be life threatening are very slight, however, possibly being a negative statistic does not make anyone feel better.

“Most of the snakes found in South Africa are not venomous and even the ones that are dangerously venomous are the minority as well. However, in the event that someone has been bitten and given enough venom to be dangerous, the only solution to this is a suitable amount of the correct antivenom, administered within the correct timeline.”

He said South Africa makes one antivenom to counter the effects of the Boomslang and another antivenom to neutralise the effects of all Cobras, Mambas, Rinkhals and the two big adders namely the Puff adder and the Gaboon adder.

“In the event that effects of the venom indicate that it could become life- threatening then the antivenom will counter this. The antivenom should preferably be administered in a hospital setup so that in the event your body shows a massive allergic reaction to the antivenom then they can save your life.”

Barnard said being bitten by a snake that possesses a potentially dangerous venom does not mean you are going to have any ill effects or die.

“Snakes can bite and not give off any venom or just give off a small amount. In most snake bites you have a few hours before the effects become life-threatening, which is enough time to get to medical help. There is virtually no first aid that can save your life, it could slow down the effects in certain cases, but it is not a cure. The pressure bandage method does help, however, knowing which species of snake bit you, is very important,”he said.

Should anyone experience a snake problem or for more information, contact Barnard on 082 850 7713.

- Supplied.

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