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Strike Back Against Snake Bites
Expert advice on what to do if you're bitten and how to prevent a bite in the first place

By Robert Preidt

MONDAY, June 19, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- With summer comes a higher risk of snake bites, but emergency doctors have some advice on what to do if you are bitten.

A car or cellphone are vital first aid items after a snake bite, because you should immediately call 911 or head to a hospital emergency room, according to Dr. Justin Arnold. He's an emergency medicine doctor at the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham.

Don't try to catch the snake -- it could bite again -- and don't take it with you to the hospital. But take a photo of it if you can do so safely.

Don't apply a tourniquet or use a venom extractor kit, and do not apply ice.

Stay calm. On average, fewer than 10 people die of snakebites each year in the United States.

Once at the hospital, don't be surprised if you do not immediately get antivenin. Doctors will watch your vital signs and any swelling near your bite, said Arnold, who is also director of the Regional Poison Control Center at Children's of Alabama.

"Most snakes are not venomous, and even those that are sometimes give dry bites, with no venom," he said in a university news release. "We'll watch a patient's reaction and see if antivenin is warranted. In some cases, it's not, even for venomous bites."

There are several ways to reduce the risk of snake bites, said retired UAB biology professor Ken Marion.

"Many snakes ... have excellent camouflage and are usually good at hiding. Take a good look at your surroundings when outside. Watch where you step or place your hands," he said in the news release.

In the woods, wear long pants and boots, which can provide protection against snake strikes.

You should also make your yard less inviting to snakes. Remove brush piles, stacks of firewood or construction debris that make excellent snake dens, Marion said.

And skip commercial snake repellents, he said.

"The anti-snake sprays you see in the home and garden store aren't really effective in the long run," Marion said. "The next rain will wash them away. Your best bet is to understand that you may be sharing your yard with a snake, and be vigilant."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on snake bites.

SOURCE: University of Alabama at Birmingham, news release, June 9, 2017

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=723654

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
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The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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