Girl, 5, bitten by spitting cobra

2011-12-22 10:31

Johannesburg - A 5-year-old girl is in a serious condition and could lose part of her hand after she was bitten by a Mozambique spitting cobra in Lephalale in Limpopo, according to a report on Thursday.

Mikayla Robbertse was going to sleep on Monday night when she was bitten by the snake in her bed, Beeld newspaper reported.

According to the girl's grandmother, Charmaine, the family heard Robbertse scream and her father rushed to the room and saw the snake.

The grandparents then picked up Robbertse and drove her to the hospital while her father Bertus and a neighbour found the snake and killed it.

"We knew he had to find out what sort of snake it was so that the right anti-venom could be given," said the grandmother.

On the way to the hospital Robbertse went into shock and her body jerked. At one stage, while in hospital, her kidneys also began to fail.

However, on Wednesday her family told the newspaper that she was out of danger and might be able to go home soon.

She might, however, need further operations on her hand.

  • Bardy - 2011-12-22 10:38

    Shame...! Why does these things happen to our little ones?

      jowza1 - 2011-12-22 11:02

      Get well soon little one

  • barry.visser1 - 2011-12-22 10:38

    Crazy.shows you how fragile life is!

  • Dineo - 2011-12-22 10:57

    But Lephalale is far far from Mozambique. How did the snake get there? Something is not right here. Aren't snakes supposed to be child friendly? I remember seeing a videoclip of a cobra pushing a toddler away instead if biting her. Or maybe this one was caught off guard and the only defence mechanism was to bite. someone clarify me.

      Bardy - 2011-12-22 11:00

      WTF? Are you for real?

      trev2 - 2011-12-22 11:00

      Mozambique is merely part of the name. It does not mean they are only found in Mozambique.

      Bruce - 2011-12-22 11:04

      Cape buffalo are found all over Africa and Nile Crocodile are not just found in the Nile. It depends on where the snake was first seen and scientifically described.

      Kate - 2011-12-22 11:04

      Seriously !!!! That was on U-Tube and the snakes teeth had been REMOVED !!!

      Bill - 2011-12-22 11:05

      WTF we have Acrtic Terns here something is not right?

      DiamondDirk - 2011-12-22 11:05

      @Dineo - Just because it is called a Mozambique Cobra doesn't mean that is the only place they are found. And if snakes feel threatened they will attack, it doesn't matter if it is a toddler or adult. @andrewpullen - Spitting Cobras spit their pray to leave them defenceless before they attack. In this case there was no pray, rather the snake probably felt threatened and attack as a defence mechanism.

      jbmckenna - 2011-12-22 11:10

      Dineo this snake is common throughout southern africa and is more commonly known in south africa as a rinkals , Recover quickly little one ...

      Anton - 2011-12-22 11:13

      Google "Mozambique spitting cobra" and put yourself out of you misery. There is no such thing as a child friendly snake. They are wild animals. They originate in Mozambique but are very common in SA.

      George - 2011-12-22 11:40

      Dineo, Watch DSTV Disney channel I think it's 302. That's where you belong. Still a long way for you.

      Sunett - 2011-12-22 11:44

      OMW. Dineo - you're joking, right?? Child friendly snakes. Who are far from their homeland. Probably hitched a ride in the Leon Schuster suitcase...! Lol! Ag nee, Dineo. Sit down before you hurt yourself.

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-22 11:48

      I see all the snake experts are trying to show their knowledge. Ok, here it is - the Mozambique spitting cobra is very common in the lowveld. It spits to ward off potential threats, not to imobilise prey. I often have to treat my dogs for spitting - but they never get bitten unless they actually catch the snake. It is a defence mechanism. The toxin is both neuro and cyto - neuro attacks the nervous system, hence convulsions, and cyto attacks tissue - hence the damage to her hand. The cyto also attacks organs like the liver and kidneys, often resulting in problems long after the bite. So its a bit like getting bitten by a puffadder (cyto) and mamba (neuro) at the same time - just both not as harsh syptoms as the latter two. Unusual to be bitten but not that uncommon, if it was in her bed it probably had no escape route, so its action was drastic. Hope she gets well soon, especially bad when a small kid is bitten.

      TheWatcher - 2011-12-22 12:18


      Elle-Black - 2011-12-22 12:33

      @ Jowza1 I totally agree with you,it's the illegal immigrants that brought it

      Elle-Black - 2011-12-22 12:35

      OKAY let's all go on a rmpage and attack Dineo for adking a question,she didnt know that's why she is asking - 2011-12-22 12:57

      @diamonddirk, Mozambique spitting cobras only spit in self defence, not when the are attacking prey. Their 1st defence mechanism is flight, 2nd is raising the front part of the body off the ground and displaying a hood and/or hissing - to scare the threat, if that does not convince the treat to leave them alone, (3rd) these cobras will spit - projecting venom at the eyes of the threat. If all fails, (4th) they will bite at the object that causes the threat. However, when the snake is docile and are surprised, they can bite if the treat is in very close proximity. I suspect that the little one entered the room, switched on the light and saw the snake on the bed when she was close to it, She then tried to touch it for whatever reason, and that is probably the reason why she was bitten on her hand - else the snake would have bite her on another body part (torso or face). The best thing to teach children is not to fear snakes but to respect them and when they see one, to move away quickly and inform their parents. @jbmckenna: Mozambique Spitting Cobra and the Black Rinkhals are two different species of cobras, not just a common name (synonym). It is a very rare and unfortunate incident and I hope the little one recovers quickly, and that the parents will not cause her to fear snakes but rather educate themselves and her about snakes. Get well soon little one.

      John - 2011-12-22 13:18

      Actually a member of the ANC who came across for to be elected with the rest of snakes One born every day..

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2011-12-22 13:34

      I apologise on behalf of my fellow commentators here Dineo. You asked a reasonable question, and most gave sarcastic and facetious answers. The snake was probably in her bed - they crawl in for warmth as snakes are cold-blooded. It is always a good idea to check your bedding before crawling in when in the countryside. Snakes are very active a this time of year. It is also a good idea to use a walking stick while walking or hiking in the bush. Puffadders normally bite their victims when stepped on, and the stick acts as a distraction.

      Ianm - 2011-12-22 13:47

      Mozambique wants Limpopo, so they are sending in their snakes to scare off Juju

      Pixie86 - 2011-12-22 13:54

      oh dineo, i can't believe people with a mind as small as yours exist.

      shirley.schoeman - 2011-12-22 14:26

      I sincerely hope that you are just trolling, because you cannot possibly be that stupid.

      Jay - 2011-12-22 15:26

      The Frightening thing is this lady studied at UCT and works at Investec!!!!! lol im seriously concerned!

      GiftedB - 2011-12-22 16:08

      You killed it girl...lmao

      Morakane - 2011-12-23 01:13

      Dineo are you high??? Seriously girl go read a book. SMH

      Breinlekkasie - 2011-12-23 06:44

      I though maybe the scientific name of the cobra would solve the problem but apparently not, Naja mossambica.

      Craig - 2011-12-23 09:00

      Sadly you have been poorly informed about snakes, no snakes are child friendly and most will bite if they feel trapped or you stand/lie on it, the Mozambican Spitting Cobra also known as a Mfezi is common all over North Eastern South Africa and it is quite common to read of people been spat at and/or bitten, possible the second most common biter after the puff adder, the poison is very dangerous and can kill if not treated quickly. Very similar to the Rinkhals.

      Craig - 2011-12-23 09:12

      Dineo, strangely enough all those who made rude, childish remarks didn't have the intelligence to finish reading your comment and none of them had the intelligence or knowledge to give you an intelligent answer, the fools in this case are those who are to bad mannered and plain dumb to have replied to properly to your question, always remember if you don't know or you'r unsure or confused, ask, somewhere you'll find somebody intelligent enough to give you a decent answer.

  • Mashudu - 2011-12-22 11:02

    shame, get well soon Mikayla.

      ezekiel.mpofu - 2011-12-22 13:27

      Hayley, you are a disgrace. You are suffering from mental paucity and ignorance.U should get a life for once.u are an illegal immigrand in your own domain.Start worrying about so called illegal immigrants and start thinking seriously about checking in at a NUT HOSPITAL.

      Ianm - 2011-12-22 13:50

      Zeek She was joking as I was. ;-)

  • Kala - 2011-12-22 11:04

    You don't need to know what snake it is in order to administer the correct anti venom. Venom will either be neurotoxic, cytotoxic or heamotoxic. The hospitals will be able to tell which one it is and administer the correct anti venom.

      Keiran - 2011-12-22 11:37

      I think that answer is a little simplistic and unfair if you are implying the killing of this snake was unnecessary. Yes its true the symptoms may allow the hospital to identify the class of snake (or even the specific snake) and administer a polyvalent antivenom but its still best practice to identify the snake if possible to do so safely - and if it were my kid, and I needed to kill the snake to do so, I would go ahead and do it. Quickly. Any way I could. Sure its tough on the snake. But whatever. Its my kid.

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-22 11:54

      As far as I know there is a general one for neuro and cyto. (Provalent or something?) Haemo (affecting the blood) is specific and rare, so very important to ID - though could only be a boomslang or vine snake. Its also inportant to ID the snake to know how much to administer - a lot more required for a mamba bite. Also, if no syptoms, it may be a harmless snake - then you don't want to administer anti venom! So please ID the snake if you can!

      TheWatcher - 2011-12-22 12:25

      You always ID the snake. There are general anti-toxins but if you identify the snake it makes the process much easier for doctors to get dosage and in some cases specific anti venom for the snake which improves chances of survival dramatically. Also i for one don't want badly trained hospital staff playing a guessing game with something as serious as this.

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-22 14:05

      I wish when people disagreed with a statement they explained why.

      Wall - 2011-12-22 14:46

      Me too - I've wondered whether there are people who just randomly downvote things to be funny.

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-23 15:36

      So then Ark, you're actually saying it IS necessary to ID it, just don't kill it, rather take a picture? Is it OK to give anti venom when the bite may be from a harmless snake? Do you wait for syptoms before giving any anti venom? Thanks for the info, just need clarity on my questions?

      Ark - 2011-12-24 07:47

      Chum Scrubber "So then Ark, you're actually saying it IS necessary to ID it, just don't kill it, rather take a picture? Is it OK to give anti venom when the bite may be from a harmless snake? Do you wait for syptoms before giving any anti venom?" Question 1) I wrote "Kala, you are 100% correct. It is NOT necessary to id the snake for the sake of treatment" Question 2)I wrote "Treatment is usually SYMPTOMATIC" Not sure if I could have said it any clearer in my original post but apologise if I didnt make myself clear enough. It is not important to id the snake but some snakebite victims still insist on doing it. If you are of the school of thought that the snake must be identified then take a picture rather than trying to kill. Hope this answers your questions.

  • Adv. Noko SC - 2011-12-22 11:05

    and these crazy nature conservationists want dictate to us that snakes must not be killed. Idiots!

      Kala - 2011-12-22 11:11

      Kill all the snakes Advocate and your house will be over run by rats. Don't kill snakes!!!!!!

      Bill - 2011-12-22 11:20

      Taxi drivers kill far more of us than snakes. These crazy humanitarians dictate to us that taxi drivers should not be killed!

      Kala - 2011-12-22 11:30

      Good come back Bill:)

      Morné - 2011-12-22 11:43

      Where do I even start to dispel your ignorance? Lets say a child gets injured in a vehicle accident. By your logic we should ban or destroy all vehicles and the idiot enthusiast driving them. It will solve the problem; no more children injured by vehicles. The knock on effect would be catastrophic; society as we know it will cease to exist. We will be punishing not only the bad drivers, but everyone else reliant on vehicles * Most snake bites can be attributed to humans deliberately handling snakes, i.e. people keeping snakes and people trying to kill snakes. The story in this article is a rare and unusual occurrence. * Most snakes are not venomous. By killing all snakes you are taking out all the innocent bystanders as well. * Snakes play an important part in our ecology. They are incredible efficient in control rodent populations; if not for snakes the incidence disease transmitted to humans (and children) by rodents would be significantly greater. * Cities and human environments devoid of natural predators of rodents (like snakes)have to cope with rodent problems by other means like poisoning. I bet the incidence of accidental poisoning of children by rodenticides far exceeds the number of snake bites in any given area. (Not even thinking of the number of little fingers that get trapped in rat/mouse traps every year). Maybe the 'idiot' shoe is on the other foot. Give conservationist some credit. Maybe they just know more than you do and can see the bigger picture.

      TheWatcher - 2011-12-22 12:13

      Killing something is a last resort. Yes I have killed snakes but only when I had no other choice. Most often I just leave them or use a broom to catch them and put them in a sack to drop off at a local game reserve. If they are poisonous + too aggressive for me to handle + around my children/pets + i can't get hold of the local snake guy then its a spade to the head and tough luck for the snake.

      ckudya - 2011-12-22 12:16

      One snake killing does not make a genocide of all snakes. If it is one that has to be culled its good up to this full stop. STOP!

      Elle-Black - 2011-12-22 12:40

      Morne i totally disagree with you you when you say that this case of a snake biting someone unprovoked is rare and unusual, i know alot of people who live in the rural areas who have been bitten inside their homes,they did not go out looking for the snake,the snake just happened to wonder in and obviously when you walk into you home or go into your bed you dont do so with absolute care just in case there might be a snake.This sort of thing happens all the time

      Morné - 2011-12-22 13:20

      @ Elle. I do not doubt you when you say that you know a lot of people in rural areas that get bitten by snakes in their homes. Please go and collect their stories. It will most likely run along similar lines. I snake was found in or around the house, then lots of screaming running around and grabbing of weapons, followed by flailing at the snake trying to kill it. Low and behold a person got bitten, most likely on the hand. If you tell me that all of them got bitten climbing into bed I might just have to call you a liar. The correct way of disposing of a snake (for non experts) is to put a dark container (like a dustbin) a few meters in front of the snake. You are providing a hiding place. If nothing else presents itself it will head straight into the container. Now lift the container up with a stick and similarly maneuver the lid into place. Seal the container, take it to a safe place for relocation, open the lid (remotely) and tip it over. Problem solved.

      TheWatcher - 2011-12-22 16:33

      @morne excellent advice on the dark container. I'll give that a try next time

  • sasabonam - 2011-12-22 11:05

    The snake does not sounds to be innocent, a snake can't just fight you especially a kid of 5 years. That snake has evil spirit in it!

      jowza1 - 2011-12-22 11:11

      i agree,must have been jujus spirit

      edwardsch - 2011-12-22 11:13

      It's name is Julius !!!

      Sunett - 2011-12-22 11:37

      Oh puhleeez!! As if a snake can distinguish between a 5yr old and an adult... "A snake can't just fight you..." Well constructed sentence, moron. Maybe the snake was sleeping, poor kid got into bed, and the snake did what nature intended it to do! I feel terrible for the poor girl, but to say that the snake has an evil spirit in it...? Ffs. Gee my net geduld...

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-22 11:56

      I presume you're joking sasabonam. In fact, I truly hope so!

      Pixie86 - 2011-12-22 13:51

      i'm so embarrased just reading this comment. #face palm#

      Ianm - 2011-12-22 13:58

      You can't be serious!??

      JohhnyBGood - 2011-12-22 16:00

      Dude, are you for real ?

  • emoneyvalu - 2011-12-22 11:06

    Well atleast the child is safe. Speedy recovery little angel

  • Martin - 2011-12-22 11:17

    poor little girl get well soon!

  • Tuner - 2011-12-22 11:23

    @Dineo. Maybe the cobra got lost and didn't realise he had crossed the border! Boy, talk about being d....!

  • George - 2011-12-22 11:36

    Sorry baby! It was actually looking for woodwork boy and his bunch of lunatics. Are they still in limpopo? The snake should be redirected.

  • IZAAN.STEENKAMP - 2011-12-22 11:54

    @ Dineo come on child friendly are you from another planet or what

  • Richard - 2011-12-22 11:59

    47 comments and nobody has blamed the ANC for this yet? Amazing

      ckudya - 2011-12-22 12:20

      Dimwit, you!

      Elle-Black - 2011-12-22 12:44

      @ Richard LMAO,well picked up, i'm also going through the comments looking for that one comment whereby this will somehow be Zuma's fault. Malema they can blame I dont care

      Pixie86 - 2011-12-22 13:48

      i thought i was the only one who noticed people on news24 blame the anc for everything.

      Ianm - 2011-12-22 14:02

      Sorry. Forgot to mention them

  • TheWatcher - 2011-12-22 12:04

    You lucky little girl, and a big thumbs up to the family for their quick thinking on taking her to hospital immediately and finding out what snake it was. You saved her life and we need more intelligent parents like you in this world.

  • Joana - 2011-12-22 12:06

    Thank you God for sparing her life!!

  • drishworth - 2011-12-22 12:13

    An awful experience for anyone but especially for one so young. Get better soon!

  • Joana - 2011-12-22 12:13

    My people Dineo and Sasabonam, please stop embarassing me!

  • Stefan - 2011-12-22 13:03

    God bless little one.

  • Archie - 2011-12-22 13:22

    We own a game farm in steenbokpan (near lepalale).Around the house all poisionous snakes die, especially mamba and pufadders,little children and others are far more important than some snakes wellbeing,if you are not a professional snake catcher rather shoot them ,try to carry antivenom in your fridge and teach your kids to avoid snakes if possible

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-22 13:44

      Anti venom is extremely expensive, and has a short expiry date, so it will only be worthwhile for the very wealthy to keep some in the fridge. Doesn't take much to learn how to catch a cobra, but a mamba I'd steer clear of unless a pro. They are very skittish though, so you're less likely to come into contact with them - cobras hang around, so easy to catch or club. Just make sure you protect your eyes with safety glasses.

      Makoti - 2011-12-22 15:11

      Keeping and administering your own anti-venom (unless you are a Doctor) can be just as dangerous. Snakes don't always inject venom when they bite, it's known as a 'dry bite'. They merely strike out. If you then administer anti-venom on a dry bite, there is no venom in the system for the anti-venom to counter act. The anti-venom then becomes the toxic in the system. Its best to ID the snake, get to a hospital and treat the bite symptomatically unless it becomes clear that venom is involved. Also people can suffer from psychosomatic symptoms.

  • Buntu - 2011-12-22 13:56

    5yrs old? That's just hard to really take in. Hope she'll be alright

  • Derek - 2011-12-22 16:27

    Why use the anti venom of a spitting cobra when this was obviously a biting one!!

      jowza1 - 2011-12-22 16:42 obviously know something that medical science does not. what do you suggest they treat it with,i dont think the flu vaccine will work.enlightern us

  • andrewpullen - 2011-12-22 17:33

    I want to be a do-gooder, commenting on all the comments, moderating from my house, sitting in my undies, and pretending to be a Masters Student. Where do i sign up? Last time i checked was taken

  • Enlightened - 2011-12-23 06:56

    Dineo???? Really!

  • denzel.bradshaw - 2011-12-23 10:09

    wow. that is one of my biggest fears. finding a snake in my bed. I hope you get better soon. snakes are scary things.

  • Yolandi Pienaar - 2011-12-23 22:55

    lets just hope that the hosptal reacted as quick as ger dad!!

  • Pamela - 2011-12-23 23:25

    get well younger little one

  • Phillip - 2011-12-24 10:35

    @ Bardy your comment are you for real made me smile :) I agree with you lol

  • Charmain - 2012-01-17 02:11

    Ok this is like mustard after the meal kind of thing. I only have time now to read through everything and first of all would like to thank everyone for their well wishes for my daughter. First fact. Kayla's bed was checked before she was put to bed, as we do every night, seeing that we live in a part of the country that is known for snakes, scorpions etc. Checking your bed is routine, like brushing teeth. There was no snake in her bed when she went to sleep. The snake must have entered her bed later and who knows what happened, but she was bitten twice. A dry bite on the elbow and a bite on the hand, where all the venom was injected. We reacted on pure instinct as we never before had to deal with anything like this. Kayla is still in hospital, and underwent her third operation this morning. The first operation on the 28th of December was to remove all dead tissue etc from her hand and arm. The second operation, they did a groin flap, were her hand was planted into the groin seeing that she had no tissue left onthe hand to heal itself and the tissue and bloodsupply of the grion is now growing on her hand. Skin and tissue was also removed from her upper thigh and transplanted onto her forearm. The stiches on the forearm came out this morning and the arreas that has rejected the skingrafts were cleaned up. She will be going into surgery again next monday to remove her hand from the groin, and to replace skin on the areas that rejected thusfar.

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