Brown Snake Bite - Emergency Action


Australia has a large population of poisonous (venomous) snakes.  Although snakes usually try to avoid people, encounters frequently occur accidentally, and there are approximately 3,000 snake bites reported every year, a couple of which will be fatal.  The widespread Common or Eastern Brown Snake is responsible for around fifty per cent of these bites.

Do you know what first aid action to take if a member of your family is bitten by a Brown Snake?  Read on to find out what to do in an emergency.

How to recognise a venomous snake bite

The Brown Snake injects its venom through two fangs when it bites.  Many accidents occur when victims are gardening and reaching into dense, dark vegetation, and most don't even see the snake that bit them. Signs that someone has been bitten by a Brown Snake include:

  • intense pain around the bite site (note that there may not be two clear fang marks)
  • tingling or stinging of the skin
  • feelings of anxiety or panic
  • trouble breathing
  • feeling dizzy or confused
  • difficulty swallowing
  • fluttering heartbeat
  • stomach cramps
  • weakness and paralysis

Snake bites are treated with antivenom relevant to the species of snake responsible for the bite.  For this reason, you should leave any venom on the skin or clothing of the victim where it can be used by the responding emergency services for identification purposes.  Don't try to catch or kill the snake.  For a start, it's actually illegal to do so in Australia, and second, the emergency services rely solely on venom samples to identify the perpetrator.

Emergency first aid for Brown Snake bites

  1. Before you do anything else, call 000 (triple zero) to summon an ambulance.  Tell the call handler that you suspect a snake bite, and be sure to tell them how recently the victim was bitten.  This is extremely important, as Brown Snake venom is very fast-acting and every second counts.  
  2. Keep the victim calm and reassure them that an ambulance is on its way.  
  3. Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage.  To do this, use a clean crepe bandage and wrap it firmly around the area of the body where the bite occurred.  Mark the bite site on the bandage with a pen if possible.  The pressure bandage will keep the venom contained at the bite site and will prevent it from spreading further around the body.  If the victim complains that the bandage is causing them pain, it's too tight, so loosen it a little.  
  4. If you have to go for help, leave the victim where they are, with company if possible.  Don't allow the victim to walk with you; it's vital that you keep them still and calm.  This is because anxiety and movement will cause the person's heart to beat faster, spreading the venom more rapidly.  
  5. Don't cut the bite, wash it or try to suck the venom out of it.

In conclusion

Brown Snake bites can kill.  If you know what to do in the event that someone is bitten, you'll give them every chance of survival and making a full recovery.  It's a good idea to attend a professionally run first aid course where you'll learn more about what emergency care to give victims of snake bites.


9 May 2016

Common Health Problems and Solutions

Hello, my name is Catherine and this is my blog all about health and medical topics. I was inspired to start this blog by my husband who works in a hospital. He isn't a doctor, he works in a lab testing blood samples. However, he is extremely interested in medicine. When his grandma got sick, he quickly established what might be wrong and got her all the help she needed. Sometimes is the evening, we sit and read textbooks and talk about medicine. It sounds insane but we both really like it. I decided to start this blog to show off some of what I have learnt.