Snake Anti venom availability for travellers

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Tom89

Tenderfoot
Jul 23, 2013
73
0
England
Does anyone know if you can buy anti venom to put in your first aid lot easily when travelling to / through areas with poisonous snakes or is it one of those hard to get, medical emergency type items ?
 

Paul W

Need to contact Admin...
Jun 5, 2005
86
0
SE London
From what I understand anti-venom is snake/species specific and cocktails of anti-venom cover only all the different species found in that area so as soon as you move to another area you need a different cocktail. Speaking as someone who lived in the tropics for 10 years and has had numerous snake encounters, avoiding getting bit is the best option.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,190
790
63
Florida
afaik, unless you know what you've been biten by, taking specific AVs with you is pretty much pointless, that said, most hospitals, if the area has venomous animals will have AV for the local populous......
Actually it's not as common as one would think. Antivenom is expensive and has a shelf life so it's not a commonly stocked item.
 

mrcharly

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 25, 2011
3,246
33
North Yorkshire, UK
Which areas? I grew up in a part of Australia where 3 species of venomous snake are very common (as in you saw them on the roadside, trod on them in fields, etc).

Local hospitals carry the anti-venom but it is species-specific. I believe it usually requires refrigeration.

Avoidance of getting bitten is the best anti-venom. 20 years of walking barefoot around a farm and I was never bitten.
 

Graveworm

Full Member
Sep 2, 2011
366
0
London UK
Local hospitals carry the anti-venom but it is species-specific. I believe it usually requires refrigeration.

Avoidance of getting bitten is the best anti-venom. 20 years of walking barefoot around a farm and I was never bitten.
WHS it has to be stored very cold or frozen and you need a lot of it eg at least 6 full vials at about £500 each .... First aid for snake bites varies according to the species (and NEVER involves use of a snake bite kit!!) snake identification is the most important thing in any treatment so if you are really concerned it might be better to cover those bases.
 
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Tom89

Tenderfoot
Jul 23, 2013
73
0
England
So what do you do with snake bite first aid? I only want to know as snakes **** me up bad and its my main worry even tho its probably very unlikely
 

mrcharly

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 25, 2011
3,246
33
North Yorkshire, UK
It might help if you tell us where you are going.

Snake bite treatment as taught in australia was this:

Pressure bandage wound. Do not wash wound - venom on the skin can aid identification.
Casualty should move slowly or be immobilized (to keep pulse and blood flow down, reducing spread of the poison).
Take casualty to hospital.

However it is different in other parts of the world due to the different effects of the poison.

Seriously, don't get hung up on how to treat snakebite. Learn to avoid bites.

With very very few exceptions, snakes are cautious and will retreat. Don't go thrashing through long grass quickly. If you need to life a fallen log or stone, stomp on the ground a bit first to alarm the snake and give it a chance to go away. Lift by the side furthest away from you. Don't stick limbs into holes. If wading through a swamp, bash the water/mud with a big stick as you go.
 

JonathanD

Ophiological Genius
Sep 3, 2004
11,818
33
49
Stourton,UK
devalbushcrafter.webeden.co.uk
It's very expensive and needs special storage, and unless you know what you are doing and are a trained herpetologist or doctor that has been trained in its administration, then don't bother. You'd have to carry tens of different bottles to cover all species in localities were dangerous snakes are prolific and it can amount to tens of thousands of pounds. It can also be more dangerous than the snake bite. Even we don't always carry it when out looking for the really dangerous ones.

And don't worry about poisonous snakes - no such thing. You can eat them all.
 
Oct 30, 2003
35
0
Cornwall
I am a FGASA Certified dangerous snake handler, and venomous snake first aider. I have caught many venomous snakes, including Black Mamba. In the seventies it was believed that there was a generic anitvenom intramuscular injection dependant on the type of venom. I carried some of these, but in hind-sight it was a futile exercise.
The most up-to date method of treating snake bite( forget about the myths of high voltage, sucking etc)is based on symptoms, and treat for shock whilst going to hospital.
Very often the snake will not have envenomated the bite, which is called a dry bite. I have received a dry bite from a snouted cobra, without any symptoms.
Dependant on the type of venom, especially a neurotoxin from a Mamba, it is acceptable to apply a tourniquet.
If the venom is cytoplasmic, then the cells around the bite break down immediately and do not repair, as the venom spreads additional symptoms will appear.

As pointed out previously, anti-venom( even for the correct snake) has a high risk of putting the patient into deep shock.
Best thing to do is get to hospital( don't chase the angry snake that just bit), as symptoms develop, they will treat appropriately.
During transit to a hospital I was taught to treat for shock and observe symptoms. It is best to explain what will likely happen next to the patient. Ie " you may start to get blurred vision etc.
I have never had any problems from snakes that I have encountered and left alone, but I do take extra precautions going into outdoor toilets, and stepping over logs.
The stick I carry is not just for tracking!
Many of the adders believe that their strong point is camouflage, so wont move out your way.
Mambas have got a reputation for aggression, and they are feisty. The only problem I have had with a mamba, was it trying to escape from humans running behind me. I saw its head a clear 3 feet out of the grass, both of us escaping in the same direction.
I believe that for serious neurotoxic envenomation they can put the patient into intensive care and take over breathing until the venom has been expelled from the body.
If you are going into a very remote area, with no vehicular access, then I would consider a sat phone, and carry a card with 24 hour medical call access.
 

JonathanD

Ophiological Genius
Sep 3, 2004
11,818
33
49
Stourton,UK
devalbushcrafter.webeden.co.uk
^^^^^

What he said. Although I'd prefer compression bandage over tourniquet, but those dodgy SA snake wranglers are well known for getting their terms mixed up. I don't think I would ever recommend a tourniquet in the strictest sense of the term, even with wholly neurotoxic delivery. I wouldn't even wear a wedding ring in case I'm bitten on that hand ;) And I'm sticking to that excuse.

As Ian says, the worst bites are delivered by the large vipers that sit there. Africa and India have the worst, so care must be taken. They tend to sit on or just off game trails and tracks. Their camouflage is very good and it's the second or third man using the track that gets it as the first alerts them. Best to go last.

Dry bites are very common. Cobras are renowned for them. Not so much vipers, but it could be odds of 50/50 even then. Nothing more awe inspiring as seeing a mamba coming at you at speed with its upper body off the floor. Only the King cobra and mamba give the impression of grace and arrogance in their posture. It belies an intelligence no other snake species possesses on that level.
 

Dingo

Nomad
Jan 7, 2005
423
0
leicestershire
check this thread out chap

http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=94603&p=1140993&highlight=#post1140993

there is a guy within this thread who takes all manner of first aid stuff dependant on whereabouts he is going, he should be able to put you right! if that's what you really want.

I think some of the advice that has already been posted is better, avoidance rather than cure is the way

take care chap, and enjoy every second of your trip sir.

Adam.
 

JonathanD

Ophiological Genius
Sep 3, 2004
11,818
33
49
Stourton,UK
devalbushcrafter.webeden.co.uk
The danger is probably well out of realistic perspective here. I get paid to find these creatures and it is difficult. And I actively go out and look for them during all hours in known local hot spots as well as uncharted areas! Close up personal encounters with the life threatening species are rare. I spent two weeks around the coast of Mombasa looking for mambas in known hot spots and found only one, and that was about five metres away and heading for a small burrow never to be seen again. Vigilance and common sense is the only thing needed.
 

Doc

Need to contact Admin...
Nov 29, 2003
2,109
10
Perthshire
There's obviously little point in carrying antivenom unless you have the skill and equipment for intravenous access, and the ability to treat anaphylaxis or other reactions to the antivenom.

In the UK European viper venom antiserum is available. I have never used it in 27 years of medicine.

When I worked in India snakebite was not an uncommon presentation. At that time we used a pentavalent antivenom that covered five common species (from memory: Krait, Cobra, Russels Viper, Saw scaled viper and I forget the other one).
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,190
790
63
Florida
Which areas? I grew up in a part of Australia where 3 species of venomous snake are very common (as in you saw them on the roadside, trod on them in fields, etc).

Local hospitals carry the anti-venom but it is species-specific. I believe it usually requires refrigeration.....
Which areas don't stock antivenom? Well almost none of the hospitals here. It's just too expensive and I believe it has a limited shelf life. It's stocked at regional sites and flown to whatever hospital needs it on demand instead. Even then, it's not guaranteed to be available.

And as Doc said, it's likely to ba a multi use antivenom for more than one species.
 
Oct 30, 2003
35
0
Cornwall
Just to clarify, I am not a doctor and the following is taken directly from the latest treatment for first aiders to a confirmed mamba bite. Despite what JonathanD said the term is clearly tourniquet. Not compression bandage.
Mambas:
The venom is absorbed by the capillary bed into the circulation. Restrict movement until proper treatment is in place. Until this is available the first aid is apply an arterial tourniquet.
Apply 50mm ligature around the upper arm, or upper leg dependant on the position of the bite. The tourniquet should be tight enough to prevent inflow and outflow of blood.
Make a note of the time it was placed and for no longer than 1.5 hours to avoid permanent damage to the limb.
NEVER USE A TOURNIQUET for ADDER or SPITTING COBRA.( Mozambique Spitting& Biting Cobra & others).

I am not sure about the term wrangler. I don't think I have ever wrangled a snake!

As regards looking for Mamba in Mombasa. There are areas to 20 miles the north where they are very common. To the south less common. I am not sure where you were looking, but on sparsely populated areas like cattle ranches you will find a greater abundance. Dependant on the season they can be very hard to find, but on the first rain fall, they will be very active.


In the tea estates of Zimbawe, you will find a vast array of interesting snakes, , or SA Limpopo district, plus many areas I havnt mentioned. When I have gone looking for snakes, it is rare I have found any, apart from turning rocks near water, but when you are not looking, they seem to appear in unlikely places.

Just a quick note, I will go out of my way to avoid snakes, because even a little bite, even from a non-venomous snake is a very aggressive and unpleasant thing.
If a snake darts by, or a rustle is heard, I avoid my curiosity getting the better of me. I would only consider catching a snake if it was cornered in habitation.

Interesting note: some of you will know from my tracking courses. Smells must mean something, and can indicate what may not be visible.... Smell curry in the bush( apart from cooking), its going to be mamba, and you are very close.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,190
790
63
Florida
Ian "max" Maxwell;1379144 said:
.....Just a quick note, I will go out of my way to avoid snakes, because even a little bite, even from a non-venomous snake is a very aggressive and unpleasant thing.
If a snake darts by, or a rustle is heard, I avoid my curiosity getting the better of me. I would only consider catching a snake if it was cornered in habitation.....
But where do you get your snake meat for supper then?
 

JonathanD

Ophiological Genius
Sep 3, 2004
11,818
33
49
Stourton,UK
devalbushcrafter.webeden.co.uk
Ian "max" Maxwell;1379144 said:
As regards looking for Mamba in Mombasa. There are areas to 20 miles the north where they are very common. To the south less common. I am not sure where you were looking, but on sparsely populated areas like cattle ranches you will find a greater abundance. Dependant on the season they can be very hard to find, but on the first rain fall, they will be very active.
You're right. I've found hundreds of them around the area, but it goes to show you that even when you know what you're looking for and actively seek these animals in a known area with a high population density, you can still come up empty handed. Murphy's Law applies to ophiology more than any other profession.
 

mrcharly

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 25, 2011
3,246
33
North Yorkshire, UK
Ian "max" Maxwell;1379144 said:
Apply 50mm ligature around the upper arm, or upper leg dependant on the position of the bite. The tourniquet should be tight enough to prevent inflow and outflow of blood.
Make a note of the time it was placed and for no longer than 1.5 hours to avoid permanent damage to the limb.
.
If you leave a tourniquet on for 1.5hours, you are going to have tissue damage.

Then when you take it off, there will be all sorts of complications.

Just use a compression bandage.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,190
790
63
Florida
If you leave a tourniquet on for 1.5hours, you are going to have tissue damage.

Then when you take it off, there will be all sorts of complications.

Just use a compression bandage.
Agreed. Never use a tourniquet at all (for any wound; snakebite or other) unless the choice is between losing the limb or losing a life (usually only a battlefield choice) And leave it on until proper medical help removes it.