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- hemotoxin: causes abnormal bleeding and blood clotting
- neurotoxin: causes muscle weakness and respiratory paralysis
- hemo-neurotoxin: A nasty mix of the two
After a bite, if no symptoms appear after an hour then it is probably a dry bite. If venom has been injected then symptoms will most likely appear within 5-15 minutes. Symptoms include burning pain, swelling, bleeding and/or bruising in other areas of the body, respiratory distress, fainting, sweating, and weakness.
If you are alone, attempt to get help by calling 911 with your phone or alerting others on the trail. If you begin to experience symptoms and you can not contact help, then it may be best to begin to self evacuate slowly. Walk and try to stay calm.
- Do not make an incision to drain the bite wound of venom. This will just cause unnecessary tissue damage. So please, throw that scalpel away.
- Do not try to suck venom from the wound, especially with your mouth. This is just disgusting and will greatly increase the chance of wound infection. It also can be a route for blood borne pathogen transmission. Commercial snakebite suction devices are not advised. Dr. Sean Bush of Venom ER, a BBC TV series, states “I have studied the Sawyer Extractor Pump extensively and found that it does not remove enough venom to make a clinical difference. In fact, I wrote an editorial about it: "Snakebite venom suction devices don't remove venom–they just suck." You can find this editorial here.
- Do not add meat tenderizer or anything else into or on top of the bite. Again, this will likely increase infection and may cause further irritation.
- Do not apply a tourniquet. Cutting off blood circulation and potentially losing an extremity is not ideal or needed.
- Do not apply ice. Again, may cause further tissue damage.
- And do not burn the bite site. Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised.
Have any snake stories? Do you have any other snake bite questions? Leave a comment. Safe adventures from Base Medical!
*all information is at the wilderness first aid level of practice