Snakebites in AustraliaAccording to The Australian Snakebite Project, there were venomous snakes discovered in every Australian state and territory. This means that Modbury is not a 100% snakebite-free city. The project further stated that there are about 3,000 snakebite cases in Australia every year.
What Does a Snakebite Look Like?Snakebites can be identified by two puncture wounds, typically around one-half inch apart, at the bite site. These deep wounds may not bleed significantly and often present a small opening in the skin. Immediate first aid is crucial as snake venom can lead to envenomation, causing various symptoms depending on the snake species. The bitten area may experience pain, swelling, and discolouration. In some cases, the snake may deliver a dry bite, meaning no venom is injected into the bitten limb, but it should never be assumed it is okay, and proper medical attention must be sought promptly to avoid complications or infections.
Snakebite Common Signs and Symptoms?Snakebites may show different signs and symptoms. It varies depending on the type of snake. The following may be seen around the area of the snakebite:
- Severe pain and tenderness at the site of the bite
Are all Snakebites Deadly?One thing to keep in mind is that not all snakebites are deadly. This may help you to keep calm and be able to apply the necessary first aid treatment to a snakebite victim. A snakebite that is dry, non-venomous, or venomous, if responded with first aid immediately, may still be treated.
Knowing what a dry snakebites isIn a dry snakebite, a venomous snake was unable to produce venom when it bit its victim. But this snakebite still stings. In addition, it will also be difficult to identify if there is no venom present. The following are the common symptoms of a dry snakebite:
- Swelling and redness around the bite
- Punctured skin
What are non-venomous snakebites?A non-venomous snakebite is made by a snake that is incapable of secreting venom. The following are the possible complications of a non-venomous snakebite:
- Retained tooth in the puncture wounds
- Wound infections such as tetanus
What are venomous snakebites?In a venomous snakebite, a poison (toxin) is injected inside a person’s body. If first aid and/or anti-venom is not provided immediately, the following are its possible effects, according to Health Direct Australia:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen tongue
- Swelling of the throat
- Pale skin
- Persistent cough
- Abdominal pain
- Heart attack
The Infamous Australian SnakesAustralia, particularly Queensland, is known to have some of the deadliest snakes in the world, capable of killing a human or animal with just a single snakebite. It will be useful to be familiar with what the different types of snakes so a first aider will know exactly what to do immediately.
Venomous snakes found in AustraliaThe Australian Museum describes the following venomous snakes as below:
- Brown Snakes -Light tan to near-black skin colour -Medium-sized -Slender to moderate build -Smallish head that is barely distinct from the neck -Smooth and slightly glossy body scale -Black pupils and orange iris
- Copperhead Snakes -Uniformly blackish to grey-brown in colour -Robust and muscular build -Semi-glossy body scale -Moderately large eyes with round pupils
- Death Adders -Triangular-shaped head -Short stout body -Thin tail
- Coastal Taipan -Changing colour, dark in winter and fading in summer -Medium to large-sized -Robust build -Deep, rectangular-shaped head distinct from the slender neck -Large eyes with intense orange-brown iris and round pupil
- Inland Taipan -Pale fawn to yellowish-brown to dark brown colour -The head and neck are many shades darker than the body -Medium to large-sized -Robust build -Large eyes with a very dark iris and round pupil
- Tiger Snakes -Skin pattern of prominent yellow and black cross-bands, dark olive brown to blackish-brown, or off-white to yellowish -Moderately wide head -Slightly distinct from the robust, muscular body -Semi-glossy scales
- Olive Sea Snake -Distinctive olive-green colouration -Adapted for ocean life -Aquatic predator, feeds on fish and eels -Coastal and coral reef habitat -Not aggressive towards humans
Non-venomous snakes in AustraliaSome of the non-venomous snakes found in Australia are known to have the following appearances:
- Diamond Python -Light to dark in colour with yellowish patterns -Triangular head -Medium-sized
- Green tree snake -Slender body and tail -Large-sized -Pale yellow belly and green to black-coloured back
- Carpet python -Slender body -Dull green to brown in colour
First Aid for Snake bitesAs mentioned above, all types of snakebites have different signs and symptoms. These may lead to severe complications and possibly death.
What to Do After a Snakebite?The following are the very first things you can do if you or someone else experiences a snakebite:
- Call triple zero (000) for emergency help.
- Remain calm and avoid unnecessary movement.
- If the snake is still present, keep a safe distance and do not disturb it.
- Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage and splint to the snakebite site to slow down venom spread through the lymphatic system and blood flow.
- Refrain from washing, sucking, cutting, or using a tourniquet on the bite, as these actions can worsen the envenomation.
- Follow DRSABCD – Check the airway, assess for breathing difficulties, monitor circulation, and look for any signs of blurred vision or other potentially life-threatening symptoms.
- If the person treating the bite has a first aid certificate and is familiar with defibrillation, they may provide immediate assistance.
- Seek professional medical aid if available and stay as calm and still as possible while waiting for the ambulance to arrive if help is not readily accessible.
Pressure immobilisation techniqueThe Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT) is a crucial first aid skill used to manage snakebites and bites from certain venomous creatures. This technique involves the use of a pressure bandage, which is typically found in a well-equipped first aid kit. To apply the pressure immobilisation technique, the affected limb is wrapped firmly with an elasticised roller bandage, starting from the bite site and moving towards the heart. The pressure bandage helps restrict the spread of venom through the lymphatic system and blood flow, reducing the severity of envenomation. Using this technique promptly and correctly can significantly improve the victim’s chances of a better outcome while waiting for professional medical assistance.
Importance of a First Aid CourseYou can’t always depend on luck, right? What if you were alone when you were bitten by a snake? What if your friends or family do not know the first aid steps? It sounds scary, right? That is why enrolling in an accredited first aid course is essential so you know exactly what to do after a snakebite. This will help you reduce the risks of potential danger and even save lives.
Accredited First Aid Course Near MeCPR First Aid Modbury offers first aid courses. This training will surely help you acquire the skills and knowledge to respond to a snakebite. The following below are recommended:
- HLTAID011 Provide first aid Course
- HLTAID009 Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation CPR Course
- HLTAID012 Provide first aid in an education and care setting
First Aid Treatment to a Snakebite’s Fatal ComplicationIf you can recall from the above snakebite signs and symptoms, the last on the list is a heart attack. This happens rarely but when it does, it’s fatal. A snakebite victim who has experienced a heart attack may still recover if treated with Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): The First Aid to Heart AttackCardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency first aid treatment that is ideally performed by a person who has the HLTAID009 Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation CPR certificate. Performing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is crucial as it may give a snakebite victim the chance to survive. You may help save the lives of snakebite victims by enrolling in the necessary first aid course.
ConclusionThere are available first aid treatments for snakebites. If you are unsure how to perform these, call the emergency hotline or the nearest hospital. Whether help is accessible or not, it would be advantageous to be first aid qualified.
The three ways to treat a snake bite are:
Immobilisation: Keep the bitten limb as still as possible to slow the spread of venom through the bloodstream.
Pressure Bandage: Apply a firm bandage above the bite site to help slow down venom movement. It shouldn’t cut off circulation completely.
Seek Medical Help: Get medical assistance immediately, as antivenom might be required. Avoid trying to suck out venom or using tourniquets, as they can worsen the situation.
To neutralise a snake bite, keep the victim calm and immobile, and seek immediate medical attention by calling triple zero (000). Do not attempt to suck out the venom or use a tourniquet, as these can worsen the situation.
A non-poisonous snake bite typically appears as two parallel rows of small, evenly spaced puncture wounds. It might cause minor pain, redness, and swelling, but serious symptoms are unlikely. Always monitor for any changes and seek medical advice if concerned.
Do not panic: Panicking can increase your heart rate and accelerate the spread of venom.
Do not suck out the venom: Attempting to suck out the venom with your mouth can lead to infection and is ineffective.
Do not use a tourniquet: Tying a tourniquet above the bite can restrict blood flow and worsen tissue damage.
Do not cut the wound: Cutting the bite area to try and remove venom is not recommended and can lead to more harm.
Instead, stay calm and still as possible, immobilise the affected limb, and seek immediate medical help.
Immobilising a snake bite helps slow down the spread of venom through the lymphatic system and bloodstream. When you immobilise the affected limb, you reduce the movement of the muscles and slows the circulation of blood and lymph fluid. This can help prevent the venom from spreading more quickly throughout the body.