Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Snake bites are dreaded but very common occurrences. The prevalence and degree of occurrence vary with different geographical locations. According to the World Health Organization, 5.4 million people are bitten each year with up to 2.7 million envenomings.
This article takes a look at the snake bit kit and its effectiveness in managing victims of snake bit.
Read on to find out more...
Do Snake bite kits work?
In the event of a snake bite, there has been an age-long practice by individuals to provide first aid and remedy to victims. This practice would typically involve things like tying a piece of cloth tight above the site of the bite, attempting to suck and spit out the venom, making multiple incisions into the site of the bite, crushing herbs and leaves into the bite site.
Snakebite kits have been in recent times recommended as first aid for snakebite treatments. However, there have been controversies surrounding the use of snakebite kits. While a faction argues for it and projects certainty about its usefulness, another faction vehemently opposes its use. The snakebite kit is an invention that mirrors the ancients first aid practice but in a more sophisticated manner.
A snakebite kit contains the following:
● A tourniquet made to occlude the bite area and prevent further spread of the venom
● Venom extraction pump which acts as a suction to take out venom
● Antiseptic wipes,
● Disposable scalpel,
● Adhesive bandages.
The mechanism of action of snakebite kits is questionable according to the medical principles and therapy. If you want to find out more about the distinction between types of snakes and the aftermath of their bits, visit here.
The Case Against Snake Bite kits
The use of snakebite kits defy medical reasoning and can be considered a waste of quality time. The contents of the kits, namely the suction pumps, tourniquet, scalpel blade provide zero therapeutic value.
Employing venom extractors is no different from the practice in some parts of Africa, where a black stone is placed on the injury site and believed to have the ability to suck out the venom.
Studies have shown that the Blackstone along with its more modern counterpart is highly ineffective. Studies have further shown that the venom extractors might do more harm by causing damage and compromising the integrity of the tissue surrounding the bite sites.
Venom when injected, rapidly diffuses through tissues, and lymphatic system, and is incapable of being sucked out with the use of an extractor or any similar equipment.
Tourniquets occlude blood vessels and obstruct blood flow; This cuts off the blood supply to the affected area and may cause extensive tissue damage. Recall that snake venom already has tissue destruction properties, the use of a tourniquet further compounds the situation.
The use of a scalpel blade to cut out the snake bite causes undue further trauma to the already distressed victim and is of no remedy to envenomation.
Consequences of Mismanaged Snakebite Incidents
Misinformed and ineffective first-aid practices can cause devastating consequences for the victim. Snake bites are meant to be treated in the quickest time possible and these first aid practices waste time that could be used for treatment. In some cases, the victim is presented very late after numerous failed first aid and treatment attempts, and thus late medical intervention might cause little or no change.
Gory images of failed first-aid practices haunt the medical field. Occasionally persistent use of tourniquets in the affected area might lead to death and decay of tissues and leave the only intervention procedure to be an amputation.
Generally mishandling snakebite incidents compromises the quality and effectiveness of medical treatment.
The correct way to handle snake bites
On ascertaining that you are dealing with a snake bite case, the correct line of action is to seek emergency treatment. Here are some guidelines to follow.
Call an ambulance
All forms of snake bites should be treated as an emergency as it cannot be immediately confirmed if the bite is venomous or non-venomous. In situations like this, it is better safe than sorry.
Observe the time of the bite.
Following a snake bite, it might take some moments before the symptom of envenomation manifests. Taking note of the time of bite gives the doctors or care workers a head start in understanding the urgency level of the case and guides the medical decisions that would be made.
Limit the movement of the victim and stay calm
Contrary to popular belief, the venom of the snake does not travel by blood, but rather through the lymphatic system. Indiscriminate movement may help increase lymphatic flow and thus speed up the spread of the venom. In cases of snakebites, it is best to keep the victim still. It is best that the victim is not allowed to walk and should rather be transported to a health facility.
Keep the bite area free of any form of constriction
The area of the bite should be stripped of any form of constricting clothing, jewelry to prevent swelling of the affected area.
Try to identify but do not attempt to kill or carry the snake.
A dead snake whose head has been severed can still night and cause envenomation. Attempting to skillfully trap a snake can be equally dangerous. You should identify the snake by taking a picture or taking mental notes of its description.
Do not make an incision on the bite site.
Do not tie with a tourniquet.
Do not self-medicate.
Do not use cold compresses or place the area in ice water.
Do not attempt to suck the venom out either by mouth or suction pumps
Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in cold water.
All of the aforesaid is a sheer waste of time and constitutes more harm than good.
At the moment, there are so many snake-bite kits you will find in the offline and online market. However, the fact remains that they do not work. Instead of opting for a snake bit kit that isn't useful, follow the detailed guide listed above on how to handle a snake-bit incidence and stick to the don't and don't.