Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nagpanchami and snake bite protocol.

And as someone who is perpetually in awe of snakes and anything related to their kind, I will join in with other snake devotees to celebrate the relationship of this captivating Indian symbol of nature worship-the Cobra with the Mother Earth.

Amidst offerings of fresh grass blades offered to the clay replica of a hooded cobra and relishing the customary ‘patolyo’ sweets wrapped in turmeric leaves, I wish to absorb traditional knowledge too of the relationship between snakes and humans in today’s changing times.

I will also visit as many people as possible to seek to address issues relating to proper awareness of ‘First aid’ for venomous snake-bite amongst my extended family, friends and acquaintances and with a able team of snake handlers, research associates and well-wishers, will surely contribute in a small way.

Please do your bit too- spread awareness about the below mentioned latest Snake bite protocol amongst friends and family.

“First aid treatment is carried out immediately or very soon after the bite, before the patient reaches a dispensary or hospital.

Unfortunately, most of the traditional, popular, available and affordable first aid methods have proved to be useless or even frankly dangerous. These methods include: making local incisions or pricks/punctures at the site of the bite or in the bitten limb, attempts to suck the venom out of the wound, use of (black) snake stones, tying tight tourniquets around the limb, electric shock and even application of chemicals, herbs or ice packs. While most of these methods/cures have been proved wrong and in fact put the patient at a greater risk than before. So please do not attempt any of these above-mentioned methods in case of a bite.

I have sadly seen many local people have great confidence in traditional (herbal) treatments, but they must not be allowed to delay medical treatment or to do harm.

The recommended First Aid protocol for Snake bite as practiced today follows the below mentioned points

• Reassure the victim who may be very anxious and scared.

• Immobilize the bitten limb with a splint or sling (any movement or muscular contraction increases absorption of venom into the bloodstream.

• Consider Pressure immobilization for bites by elapid snakes only like the Indian Cobra and the Indian krait including sea snakes but should not be used for viper bites because of the danger of increasing the local effects of the necrotic venom. There is considerable debate of which technique to be used and I have personally found the use of a local compression pad applied over the wound pressure bandaging of the entire limb to be very effective.

• Avoid any interference with the bite wound as this may introduce infection, increase absorption of the venom and increase local bleeding.

· The patient must be transported to a place where they can receive medical care (dispensary or hospital) as quickly, but as safely and comfortably as possible. Any movement, especially of the bitten limb, must be reduced to an absolute minimum to avoid increasing the systemic absorption of venom. If possible the patient should not be allowed to walk and carried with the help of a stretcher or bed or sitting on a chair, etc.

And lastly remember, Polyvalent Anti Snake venom Serum is the only effective remedy for a venomous snakebite in India.

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