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Danie Viljoen

Snake bite

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I had a very close encounter with a tree snake this past weekend. I found one of the excellent Magoebaskloof caches with a lovely green rubber snake on top of it. I thought it was a rubber snake, to scare away the monkeys which are common in this area. I shudder to think what could have happened had I not prodded it with a stick first. Or if it had been any of a large number of caches hidden in hollow trees...

 

My question - what should one do if one is unlucky enough to get bitten by a poisonous snake, especially if you are alone and far from a doctor? It is not really practical to carry snake serum with you, or is it?

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First Aid for Snakebite

• Keep the patient still and reassure them.

• Maintain vital functions, if imperilled (e.g. "ABC")

• Immediately apply a pressure immobilisation bandage.

• Try and maintain the patient as still as possible and bring transport to them.

• Always seek medical help at the earliest opportunity.

• If the snake has been killed, bring it with the patient, but do not waste time, risk further bites and delay application of pressure bandage and splint by trying to kill the snake.

• Do not wash the wound.

• Do not use a tourniquet.

• Do not cut or suck the wound.

• Do not give alcohol to the patient.

• Do not give food and only non-alcoholic clear fluids may be used for drinks.

 

 

Basic Principles

There are several important principles of first aid for bites and stings that should guide decisions on what is, and as importantly, what is not good first aid.

· First aid should do no harm!

· First aid should be practical and achievable.

· First aid should be supported by both clinical and scientific evidence of effectiveness.

Older "first aid" methods for snakebite are classic examples of techniques with the potential to cause the patient harm. Indeed, the use of tourniquets and "cut and suck" have resulted in numerous cases of permanent and severe injury to patients, even deaths.

 

The Pressure Immobilisation Method

This important first aid method was developed by Dr. Struan Sutherland and colleagues at CSL and first published in 1978 in the prestigious international journal, "The Lancet". It is based on knowledge of the structure of important snake and spider toxins and previous clinical and experimental experience. It has been known for many years that the lymphatic system plays a key role in transport of toxins from the periphery to the circulation. In the case of snake venom toxins this is easily explained by the large size of these toxins. Clinically, adenopathy in nodes draining the bite site is often an early sign of absorption of venom, and in those tragic cases ending fatally, Sutherland was able to show high concentrations of venom in regional nodes.

The aim of this method is therefore to retard venom transport via the lymphatic system. This is achieved in a dual approach. Firstly the lymphatic vessels at the bite site are compressed by bandaging, extended to much of the rest of the bitten limb as possible. Secondly, proximal movement of lymph in the vessels is slowed or stopped by splinting the limb, thus also stopping the "muscle pump" effect of muscle movement. Correctly applied, this technique can virtually stop venom movement into the circulation until removed, up to hours later, without any threat to limb tissue oxygenation, which is just one of the major problems in using tourniquets. It must be remembered, however, that this method is only first aid. It is not definitive medical treatment for envenoming. Once in a hospital equipped to treat the bite with antivenom, if necessary, then all first aid should be removed after initial tests and precautions are taken. The details of these may be found in the following section on "Medical Treatment of Bites and Stings".

In summary, the pressure immobilisation method of first aid is:

• Apply a firm broad bandage or similar (even clothing strips or pantyhose will do in an emergency) over the bite site, at the same pressure as for a sprain. Do not occlude the circulation.

• Apply further bandage over as much of the rest of the bitten limb as practical. Ensure fingers or toes are covered to immobilise them. It is often easiest to go over the top of clothing such as jeans, rather than move the limb to remove clothing.

• Ensure the bitten limb is kept motionless by applying a splint and instructing the patient to cease all use of the limb and any general activity.

The pressure immobilisation method of first aid is ideal for Australian snakebite by all species, as well as bites from suspected funnel web spiders and mouse spiders, and for bites by the blue ringed octopus and cone. It is not appropriate for bites from the red back spider, other spiders, scorpions or centipedes or stings from venomous fish.

 

Extracted :anitongue:

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Hi Danie,

 

If there's one thing that I've learnt about snake bite first aid, is that its not that straight forward. The first-aid for a particular snakebite may make things worse for another type of bite...

 

For example, if you're bitten by a puff adder (which has predominantly cytotoxic venom - affecting your muscle tissue), you're better off raising the bitten area and moving around to get the venom to flow away from the limb and thereby reducing the tissue damage. BUT this is obviously the wrong thing to do if bitten by many other snakes!

 

Generally, the best first aid would be to calm the victim down and get them straight to a hospital.

And unless you know what you're doing and you have sufficient anti-venom (which most kits do not), I'm not sure that you would want to start with injections etc.

But I would recommend learning about snakebite first aid, so that you're able to do the correct first aid. Definitely worth it!!

 

I see that you're from Pretoria. There is a very good course offered in Gauteng by Mike Perry on Snake Identification, First Aid and Venemous Snake Handling which I can highly recommend. www.africanreptiles-venom.co.za

 

I haven't really been too helpful in offering a straight forward answer have I?? :anibad:

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We have had two incidents with snakes, while out caching.

The first time it was at my adopted Controling flight cache, and the second time, also at my adopted Horse O war cache.

 

Since then, I have bought a anti snake kit, which we added to our first aid kit, which we carry when we go out caching. This little kit was bought from Outdoor warehouse for about R100.00, and is supposed to buy you an extra 30 minutes to an hour.

 

I read the instructions carefully when we got it, but must be honest

I can not remember exactly what those instructions were now.

 

Maybe it is a good idea, for all geocachers to add a snakebite number into their cell phones. As it is bound to happen to one of us sooner or later.

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Also, if someone gets bitten, take a photo of the snake.

 

With the adrenalin rushing etc, one might forget some small detail of the snake which might help the medics. Also showing them a photo leaves a lot less over to interpretation later on.

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First Aid for Snakebite

• Keep the patient still and reassure them.

• Maintain vital functions, if imperilled (e.g. "ABC")

• Immediately apply a pressure immobilisation bandage.

• Try and maintain the patient as still as possible and bring transport to them.

• Always seek medical help at the earliest opportunity.

 

Thanks for the advice!

 

The problem is that I, like many of us, often cache alone, at remote sites. Keeping the patient still and reassuring him is hardly going to happen if I get bitten when sticking my hand into the next tree hole, especially after having just read about the horrible effects of boomslang venom. Even knowing what type of snake it was will only really help once one gets to a doctor. To have a pressure bandage in one's caching bag sounds like a good idea. I wonder about DamhuisClan's snake kit. If you are talking about serum - is there not a big risk that the wrong type of serum can do more harm than good? (I have since found out that there are about 300 species of snake in Africa, of which a quarter are dangerous...)

 

Assuming that one can stay reasonably calm, and can manage to apply a pressure immobilisation bandage, what would be the best thing to do next? Rush down the mountain to your car, amble down leasurely, or lie down and phone for help (assuming there is reception)? (At least we usually know EXACTLY where we are! :anibad: )

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I found these number from the africlinics web site:

 

 

POISON INFORMATION CENTRES

Medicine information Centre (UCT)

021 406 6829

Netcare Poison Centre

0800 333 444

Tygerberg Poison Information Centre

021 931 6129

Poison Information Centre

(Red Cross Children’s Hospital)

021 689 5227

Drug and Poison Information Centre

(University of the Free State)

082 491 0160

 

 

Some more numbers from petech.ac.za

 

Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital Poisons Information Service

021-689 5227

 

University of Cape Town: Medicines Information Centre

021-448 3202

021-406 6291

021-406 6280

021-406 6427

 

Tygerberg (University of Stellenbosch Pharmacology and Toxicology Consultation Centre)

021-931 6129

 

Johannesburg Hospital Poison Information Centre

011-642 2417

011-488 3108

 

TPS Drug Information Centre

011-339-4831

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I very nearly had a bad run-in with a snake at a table mountain cache.. When I spotted it we were about 2 meters from each other.. My legs turned to rubber and my mind froze in utter fear as it raised it's head..

 

Thankfully it turned upon itself and backed of.. The snake was fairly thick, about 8 foot long and yellowish... I know very little about different snake species, but was later told by others that this guy was a Cape Cobra, and that it is of the nasty variety..

 

Truth be told, even if I had info handy, a snake kit in the backpack, and a number on the cell.. If that snake had a piece of me I would have gone into a flat panic, and probably have done all the wrong things.. I suppose one needs to have a cache buddy that can keep his cool and take control of the situation..

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I very nearly had a bad run-in with a snake at a table mountain cache.. When I spotted it we were about 2 meters from each other.. My legs turned to rubber and my mind froze in utter fear as it raised it's head..

 

Thankfully it turned upon itself and backed of.. The snake was fairly thick, about 8 foot long and yellowish... I know very little about different snake species, but was later told by others that this guy was a Cape Cobra, and that it is of the nasty variety..

 

Truth be told, even if I had info handy, a snake kit in the backpack, and a number on the cell.. If that snake had a piece of me I would have gone into a flat panic, and probably have done all the wrong things.. I suppose one needs to have a cache buddy that can keep his cool and take control of the situation..

 

Hennz I must agree with you. Sometimes I feel, although one must be prepared and not be ignorant, knowing too much about all the dangers out there will leave me a quivering wreck too afraid to leave the house. I can think offhand of at leat 3 times I saw intimidating snakes while caching in the past two years, fortunateley I was not about to step on them and they slithered away.

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The worst one I experienced was when Wazat and I were caching together. I removed the micro and I noticed that the log is wet. There was nothing inside the hole. Wazat replaced the log at the vehicle and we went back to the hiding place. Luckily I always check before I stick my hand into things. A boom slang was curled up in this hole. But it was so nicely done that you could have missed it. At first Wazat thought I was joking. While chatting to each other this snake suddenly disappeared to somewhere and then there were two cachers doing the dance on a bridge. This was more frightening. Scary like hell. It was gone without a trace. While it was inside the hole I tried to remove it but it was wedged solid but it was ready to strike. A boom slang will strike sideways and the bigger eyes are the tell tale that this is a boom slang. Wazat and I had a long discussion about this one and what was the next step if being bitten.

 

The poison of the boom snake is deadly but people forget that you do not get bitten and die on the spot. This is a misconception. A boom slang can strike you and in some cases if you do not have the knowledge you will assume it is all ok after the first burning has stopped. There are cases where people was bitten and after a while they felt ok and assumed it is not poisonous. It is all about the dosage and if he succeeded to get a proper hold and if you are in good condition. Ok, if it is a kid you have a serious life threatening situation and then the clock is ticking. Every second will count. This is where you immobilize the arm or leg and you pick him up and you run with him. I hope you know how to do this. The Boom slang produces between 4 and 8 mg of poison. The lethal dosage is 5 mg to kill an average adult. If the kid is half your size then even the most timid boom slang could inject more than the lethal dosage. The problem is when the real symptoms are experienced then it is usually too late. The poison work slowly but the damage is tremendous and can not be reversed. You get bitten by one of them get to a hospital as quick as possible forget about resting, waiting, checking your waypoint and completing your diary. If you are close to the normal man's world drop your gear and leave it.

 

With the other snakes the effect of the venom starts immediately.

 

The best prevention is not to get bitten.

1. Do not step over rocks or branches but climb on top of it and then down. You need to see the area where you are going to place your foot.

2. Use a stick to remove caches; something could be on the top or behind.

3. Tap your stick on the ground if you walk along a path. Usually the snake will hear this vibration long before you get to it and it will get out of your way.

4. If grass is overhanging on a foot path use a stick to move them around as you walk.

5. If you want to sit down check the area and make sure it is clear of ants, snakes, elephants, muggles or spiders.

6. Always inform people where you are and what time you will be expected back. I cache alone even in the Drakensberg but I always phone to say where I am and to what point I am moving to. As soon as I get reception again then the same pattern is done. At least they will know where to collect me.

7. If you see a snake stand still and most of the time they will go away. Or move away from it but keep your eye on it. Don’t run like crazy or try to kill it – this is when people get bitten. Stay in control of yourself. Ok, the mamba and the adder could come for you.

8. Take a photo if bitten or take the snake with you. Dead not alive, if possible. If the snake is not identified then you have problems and they will wait for the test results and symptoms before they will treat you. This is where you can die in hospital.

9. Wear boots which is as high as possible – most of the bites are on the ankle up to knee height.

10. Don’t be brave – the snake struck faster than the eye. Keep your distance. Ok, enough distance if you can something like 1 km or more. On a serious note – stay well clear of him. Do not be surprise at the distance that he can move and strike. Most people misjudged the distance a snake can strike.

11. Stay in front of your children and not behind them. You get bitten then you have a chance. They get bitten then there is no time.

12. If you crawl into bushes check and pat the tree, bush and overhang before you get in there. If you walk into a bush try to focus on specific points. You will see movement if you do it this way. Just walking and looking around could cause you to miss that one movement between life and death. Same applies to muggles and people that sneak up on you. If you are focussed you will notice movement of the snake or muggle before you see them.

13. If you carry serum please discuss it with your doctor first. Some people are allergic to this and this could cause problems.

 

At a cache planting by GpsStorm I experienced a very close one. Everything appeared normal and I tilted the cache out of the hole with the walking stick. The snake was behind it and strike the stick so fast that I had no time to react. Luckily he went for the stick and not me. When I realised that he went for me and I got back on my feet he was gone.

 

Just to quote a few stats to put things in perspective. Read the book about the Drakensberg called “Dragon’s wrath written by Reg Pearse. From 1906 to 1985 only one person has died of a snake bite. More than half of the deaths were preventable and it was due to a fall. About five deaths were due to lightening. The rest were drowning, fire, exposure, missing or a pre-existing condition. About 75% of snake bites are on the legs and about 15% is on the hands.

 

Don’t get bitten. You have a bigger chance to get shot in the veldt or to be overpowered. We have 500 cachers and not one is lost due to a snake – I hope. You can sit in front of the TV and a heart attack. The risk of snake bite is always there but it is slim but don’t relax and prevent first before cure. Numerous cachers had a near miss or must I say I near hit – but all of them done the right thing at that moment. Rather learn from that experience and be safe. So many times I have read “Do not put your hand down that hole” or “Use a stick”. But some people never learn.

 

Gerhard

 

Dr Arthur Morgan

All outdoors people are at risk for snake bite in Southern Africa, although this occurs rarely. Be careful where you walk and put your hands. Wear long boots or long baggy trousers and thick socks to act as a barrier and to enlarge the target with air.

If you see a snake, freeze, and then move away slowly without any sudden movements. Do not play with any snake, alive or (apparently) dead.

The snakes of Southern Africa can be divided into several groups. From the point of view of their venom these are:

Adders (vipers)

Mambas and Cobras (including sub-type Spitting Cobras)

Back fanged snakes (including sub-type Boomslang)

Constrictors (no venom, but can inflict a nasty wound)

Serious envenomation is not inevitable after a snake bite. The snake has to expend a lot of energy to make the venom, and will not use it wastefully – you are far to big for it to eat, and it just wants to warn you off with the least effort and risk to itself. It will inject a lot of venom only if you have made it very cross or very frightened. Treat envenomation only if it has occurred – as diagnosed by the signs and symptoms. Snake venom is a mixture of many substances with different toxic effects, but there will usually be one main effect on the victim. Treating effects of the major action will usually keep the

patient alive during the acute phase of envenomation.

 

The snakes with venom that can kill quickly are Mambas,

Cobras, including Spitting Cobras, and similar snakes. Usuallythese venoms act mainly as a voluntary muscle paralysing agent although occasionally a cardio-toxin is injected into a vein which may depress the heart. The patient is unable to move or breathe, and other organs are affected only afterwards by the lack of oxygen. Severe weakness or paralysis may start within minutes or be delayed for an hour or

two and progress very rapidly indeed, or over several hours,and may last a few days. The only emergency treatment needed is mouth to mouth rescue breathing, and periodic mopping up of saliva so it does not go into the lungs. If there are facilities to do so, intubate the trachea and ventilate with a

self inflating bag ventilator and sedate the patient for his comfort. Sedate only if you are very well experienced in resuscitation! Pain is seldom a major problem, although a big Cobra or Mamba can cause a painful bite. Ventilation and good nursing will keep the patient alive until the venom is broken down. Nurse the patient as for any totally paralysed patient. Set up an intra-venous infusion. Keep the eyes closed so that they do not dry out since this will result in corneal ulceration. Keep the patient comfortable - cool, in the shade, off stones etc. Call for professional help early. Spitting Cobras

have a venom that may cause severe, but not very extensive tissue necrosis (destruction). This will need a Surgeon's opinion.

In Australia it has been shown that, with snakes with similar venom action, wrapping the limb from end to end with a comfortably tight crepe bandage will delay the onset of envenomation. This has not yet been validated for African snakes, but will probably not do any harm provided that it is not applied too tightly, and limb swelling is allowed for by slowly releasing tension as needed. If any venom has been sprayed into the eyes by the Spitting Cobras or Rinkhals there will be immediate severe pain. Wash the eyes with as much sterile or at least clean non-damaging fluid as possible. If anti-venom is used there can be a severe immune reaction with corneal damage so dilute to very low concentration with a safe fluid. Use of a sterile ophthalmic antibiotic ointment after very generous washing of the eye will decrease pain and infection. All Front fanged snakes have venoms at least partially neutralised by South African Institute for Medical Research Polyvalent Snake anti-venom. It can be bought but is expensive and has a short shelf life if not refrigerated. Anti-venom may be used if the user is trained to deal with severe and immediate allergic reactions. Since the anti-venom is made from horse serum any allergy to horse serum is an absolute contra-indication to its use. The serum should be given slowly as an intra-venous infusion. Adrenaline (epinephrine), anti-histamines and possibly cortico-steroids should be available for immediate use - adrenaline should be drawn up in a syringe or already diluted for infusion. After a severe envenomation by a large Cobra or Mamba the initial dose of anti-venom may be as much as 10 ampoules given over a few minutes. Stop if the patient is stable or improving. Consider more if the patient is becoming weaker. Ventilate the patient without delay if needed whether you are giving anti-venom or not.

Night Adder

Rinkhals

TRAINING FACT SHEET - Number 3

This training fact sheet may be reproduced in an unaltered state.

The typical adder / viper group such as the Puff Adder or the Gaboon Viper have venom that

will act more slowly, and may cause massive tissue and blood vessel damage. Blood and

fluid will leak out of the blood vessels into the tissues around the bite with severe pain and

gross swelling. The damage may involve the whole limb. Fluid resuscitation is the primary

treatment. Anti-venom may help and should be considered with a starting dose of up to 5

ampoules for a Gaboon Viper. Take the same precautions for allergy as suggested above.

Strong analgesics such as morphine given carefully may be needed. Paracetamol will give

useful additional analgesia, but avoid the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories because of

possible kidney damage. Immobilise the limb as if it was broken, elevate it, set up an intravenous

drip, and evacuate the patient to hospital as soon as possible. Remember to adjust

the splints as the limb swells.

Berg Adders seldom bite despite provocation. Their venom has been reported as causing death, but this is either very rare or misreporting. Although they are adders their venom causes mild local tissue damage, but affects the cranial sensory nerves with sound, smell, and visual hallucinations, or even tempory blindness. Permanent blindness has been reported.

The Back fanged snakes like the Boomslang are usually timid and non-aggressive. You will have to work hard at getting bitten. Their venom affects the ability of the blood to clot, so the patient will ooze from every little hole. Death is over days so evacuate with as little trauma to the patient as possible. Even the damage done by brushing teeth will cause bleeding! Intravenous infusions should only be set up by experts. Specific and very effective Boomslang anti-venom is held by the South African Institute for Medical Research in Johannesburg and will be issued to treating doctors only after a firm diagnosis of Boomslang envenomation. The other Back fanged snakes do not have anti-venom and bites should be treated symptomatically.

Many snakes have no venom glands or venom injecting mechanism.

These are large compared to their prey and kill by constricting the prey

and suffocating it. There are a few reports of large Pythons eating small

children. The bigger snakes (Pythons and Mole Snakes) can inflict a

nasty wound with their many strong teeth. The physical damage and

infection can cause severe trauma to the victim. Tetanus is a real

danger and tetanus toxoid should be given as is standard for any animal

bite. The wound may need surgical cleaning and antibiotics.

Several snake venoms have unpleasant effects but are seldom lethal,

and cannot be treated. Treat the symptoms.

Take home message- if the patient can't breathe, do mouth to mouth breathing for them.

For more information about mountain skills training contact:

South African Mountaineering Development & Training Trust

www.mdt

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Very interesting.

 

I must say there are some nasty snakes out here in the desert too - plus scorions.

 

We have been fortunate so far - but I am always a little nervous picking therough piles of rocks while caching in the desert.

 

The worst reptile seen however was

 

b304b568-9324-4f06-a4ee-f5a7ae0cb625.jpg

 

this guy.

 

Cincol and I did see snake tracks close top a cache outside Abu Dhabi however

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The worst one I experienced was when Wazat and I were caching together.

 

Reminds me of the joke - 2 guys out caching and the Wazat gets bitten on the seat of his pants. Quick thinking gerhardoosMPsa uses Damhuisclans list of numbers and phones on his cellphone for help. The doctor on duty explains that he needs to carefully make a cut near the wound and suck the poion out.

 

GerhardoosMPsa returns and wazat asks what the doctor said. GerhardoosMPsa (remembering where the bite was) says - i have bad news - you're going to die!

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I wonder about DamhuisClan's snake kit. If you are talking about serum - is there not a big risk that the wrong type of serum can do more harm than good? (I have since found out that there are about 300 species of snake in Africa, of which a quarter are dangerous...)

 

Because anti venom is really expensive to produce, there are only really 2 types of antivenom that is produced. One is a polyvalent antivenom that is used to treat bites from the following:

  • Puff adder (Bitis arietans)
  • Gaboon adder (Bitis gabonica)
  • Rinkhals (Haemachatus haemachatus)
  • Green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps)
  • Jameson's mamba (Dendroaspis jamesoni)
  • Black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)
  • Cape cobra (Naja nivea)
  • Forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca)
  • Snouted Cobra previously ' Egyptian cobra' (Naja annulifera) and the
  • Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja Mossambica)

And the other is a monovalent antivenom for Boomslang bites.

(www.savp.co.za)

 

So try to only get bitten by those snakes??? :anibad:

 

Anti-venom may be used if the user is trained to deal with severe and immediate allergic reactions. Since the anti-venom is made from horse serum any allergy to horse serum is an absolute contra-indication to its use. The serum should be given slowly as an intra-venous infusion. Adrenaline (epinephrine), anti-histamines and possibly cortico-steroids should be available for immediate use

 

This is really important. Because the antivenom is made using horses, many people will have an allergic reaction to it, which is why one needs to know how to administer the antivenom AND the adrenaline. Otherwise there is a good chance that it's the reaction to the antivenom thats actually going to kill you...

 

the initial dose of anti-venom may be as much as 10 ampoules given over a few minutes.

 

Even if you are carrying a standard snakebite kit, which has one or two ampules of antivenom, the initial required dose for a bite may be between 5 and 10 ampules. So just get to a hospital as quickly as possble! (even if you're still feeling fine - because you may only react later...)

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The best prevention is not to get bitten.

 

....Ok, the mamba and the adder could come for you.....

 

....Do not be surprise at the distance that he can move and strike. Most people misjudged the distance a snake can strike.....

 

Thanks GerhardoosMPsa, some really good tips indeed! B)

 

Just to add to that, snakes won't come for you. So no need to worry. Rather move away slowly. Unless you're standing on it and it strikes, in that case jump like hell! :anibad:

 

And as a general rule, snakes can strike to a distance of about 50% of thier body length.

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Just my tuppence-ha'penny worth:

 

I spend much time training First Aiders and am also an ICU trained nursing sister, but despite all that don't claim to know it all, by any means.

 

There are three categories of snakes in South Africa and I classify them according to the effects of their venom:

a) Cytotoxic - those that cause local tissue damage (Puff Adder; Gaboon Viper; Berg Adder; Horned Desert Viper)

:) Neurotoxic - those that suppress the brain and vital organs (Black Mamba; Green Mamba; Cape Cobra; Rinkhals)

c) Haemorrhagic - those that interfere with blood clotting (Boomslang)

 

Signs and Symptoms:

a) Cytotoxic:

Very painful - the skin will be discoloured around the bite site and may have a blister over the bite (do not prick!)

Causes tissue damage and necrosis of surrounding tissue.

 

;) Neurotoxic:

Slurred speech; difficulty in swallowing; dribbling of saliva.

Changes of level of consciousness rapidly occur: initially become drowsy and then eventually comatosed.

Muscle weakness: drooping of the eye lides, blurred vision.

Difficulty in breathing leading to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.

 

c) Haemorrhagic:

Belated severe bleeding occurs expecially internally in the joints and kidneys.

Bruising and skin discolouration eventually develops.

 

First Aid Treatment:

Sit the person down and reassure them and try to keep them calm.

Very gently wipe any obvious venom away from the bite site.

Apply a broad roller bandage firmly to the affected limb, from below the bite to as high up the limb as possible.

Keep the limb still and do not elevate it.

Watch the person carefully for changes in their condition and treat symptoms as and when they occur.

Transport to hospital as soon as possible - notify the hospital of what has happened to enable them to have the anti-snake bite venom ready on the persons arrival.

 

Anti-venom is not administered by a lay person - it is extremely dangerous and can result in anaphylactic shock.

 

The Rinkhals can spit poison up to 7 meters and aims for the victims eyes, which results in severe pain and temperory blindness, and swelling of the eye.

Large amounts of poison are not absorbed through the eye, but the poison should be washed out of the eye using lots of clean water (turn the head to the affected side and rinse the eye by pouring cool water from the inside of the eye to the outside).

 

There are also two very venomous spiders in South Africa:

a) Black widow - also known as the button spider

B) Violin spider.

 

The black widow is neurotoxic, while the violin spider causes cytotoxic effects. The first aid treatment of their bites is supportive initially and referred for medical treatment.

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Very interesting.

 

I must say there are some nasty snakes out here in the desert too - plus scorions.

 

We have been fortunate so far - but I am always a little nervous picking therough piles of rocks while caching in the desert.

 

The worst reptile seen however was

 

b304b568-9324-4f06-a4ee-f5a7ae0cb625.jpg

 

this guy.

 

Cincol and I did see snake tracks close top a cache outside Abu Dhabi however

 

This guy is called a dhaab. Quite interesting characters. Although fairly lazy I have seen them travel at tremendous speed over the desert stones! This particular one was over 1m in length, but generally they are not that large.

 

The snake tracks that CH and I saw near Abu Dhabi were those of a side-winder. The tracks are very distinctive in the sand and create a funny feeling when you see them - like where is the owner of the tracks!! The ones we saw were very fresh indeed as the wind had not affected them yet.

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Wash the eyes with as much sterile or at least clean non-damaging fluid as possible

Remember that urine is clean, sterile and non damaging if no other alternatives are available.

 

What a fantastic bit of research from all! Couldn't have done better myself!

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Has anyone noticed that cachers who encounter snakes are normally alone i.e. No kids???

THATS RIGHT, TAKE THE KIDS WITH, THEY MAKE SO MUCH NOISE THEY SCARE THE POOR SNAKES AWAY.

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I can now understand why we are still 500 + cachers. It appears as if most cachers do have some sort of experience and knowledge about these little sliders. I managed to learn something new again and thanks for the input. I think the awareness level is raised again.

 

The best advice I can give is to carry a little black book with you. List your medical data such as emergency rescue number, medical aid number, diabetes status and allergies - if you do get injured and you can not speak for yourself. Keep the numbers of the mountaineering club, snake identification with pictures, contact details, next of kin, etc with you in this book with your hiking gear in a sealed bag. Most people have all the info they need but if disaster struck they forget about all their skills and knowledge and panic sets in.

 

You will also discover that in most cases Murphy’s Law will apply. The guy with the most knowledge will be bitten and he will lose unconscious leaving the others to do CPR and treatment and they have no clue. Very few of us can calmly say “Ok, I am bitten by a full grown mamba, I feel faint and I am 20 km away from the nearest point of help and I have about three hours left in this world and I have no cell phone reception – what is the next step?” Some people will read the last sentence and will start to panic, in a real life and death situation fear is the worst enemy. This is why you have your little book; this is what guides you what to do if the chips are down. When the mind starts to race this is your reference to get in control. Ok, if you have a fall alone somewhere in the Drakensberg and you are unconscious it will be hard to read your little book so don’t take chances – rather skip the cache and move on or down.

 

I remember another incident while doing an event in Nelspruit. We found the cache and everybody was happy. One of the cachers placed his hand inside the plastic bag to retrieve the container. The next moment he was in pain and the scorpion fell out. Luckily this was a warning and a wake up call. The question that remains is how many of us are placing our hands inside plastic bags without realising that a spider or scorpion is waiting for that hand to get close. Prevention is better than the cure. Shake the bag and let the cache drop out. Here prevention is the answer – do not stash containers inside plastic bags. Remove the filthy bags or get a better container.

 

The bottom line is that I received more pain from bees, wasps, poison ivy and thorns than snakes and I am glad that ratio is not reversed.

Gerhard

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I agree Gerhard, we have a fantastic bunch of ecologically aware fellow cachers!

 

One last bit of drab info from me... One of the most helpful things you can do if someone get bitten is to record the time that they were bitten and then what time they present the different symptoms. As this will help to determine how the patient is treated (as different snakes will cause different reactions).

 

Following the symptoms highlighted by TV&M, just jot down the time of the symptom and how it progresses. This may be one of the most useful things that you can do. Include the times that you've given antivenom/ adrenaline (if you have).

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Has anyone noticed that cachers who encounter snakes are normally alone i.e. No kids???

I have seen snakes with my daughter....but she is quite quiet.

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The worst one I experienced was when Wazat and I were caching together.

 

Reminds me of the joke - 2 guys out caching and the Wazat gets bitten on the seat of his pants. Quick thinking gerhardoosMPsa uses Damhuisclans list of numbers and phones on his cellphone for help. The doctor on duty explains that he needs to carefully make a cut near the wound and suck the poion out.

 

GerhardoosMPsa returns and wazat asks what the doctor said. GerhardoosMPsa (remembering where the bite was) says - i have bad news - you're going to die!

 

Haa haa.... Good one.

 

To go back on this little find of ours it was enough for me to temporary disable the cache till I had another plan. Upon returning I went and placed the now magnetic cache in a new "better spot" basically on the other side of where the first one was. I thought that maybe it needs to be moved deeper in so as I reached round to push it in further I was met by yet another snake... not a green one this time but a snake nether-the-less. This guy was nicely curled up around a branch not more than 30cm from where I was poking my head in. Very well camouflaged and way too close for my liking. If it wasn't enough that the first one had given me a chilling fright, this one very nearly made me cammo the seat of my pants....

 

There was no way I was going to be leaving the cache there so I grabbed a stick lying on the ground (at least I hope it was a stick) and pushed the slimy thing out of the way till it was safe to retrieve the cache. Best is carry a stick with you cause you never know what might be in that tree...

 

As much as I want to beat the things to death, we must understand that this is their territory and nudging them along is the way to do it. Obviously if it gets aggressive I will beat seven sorts of crap out of it ...

 

Fortunately my encounters have been fortunate and nothing more serious than a tick bite has happened to me, funnily enough on that same weekend of our encounter with the snake. A bee flew into my shirt and right out again yesterday but that was it. Snakes are best dealt with with caution and a long stick i say.

 

Be aware and be safe....

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Wazat I had myself in a knot with laughter for your comment – that was good, I enjoyed it. Ok, the bottom line is – never ever do any caches with gerhardoosMPsa under any circumstances. You get to play with a boom slang, roll in the mud, have a long walk back to camp in darkness and you get to play with many spiders bigger than you face and you end up with tick bite at the same time. Your little lady will meet me with a broom in her hand the next time I knock on the door. And that is not for sweeping. :)

 

That reminds me - we still need to go and look for a special one in the Drakensberg. I hope you are prepared. Is your little black book up to date? On a serious note – that was one of the best times I ever had.

 

I love snakes. Catch them, cut the dangerous part off at the right vertebra, remove the skin and the stuff that is not good in the inside and cut him up in rings like calamari. Cook with tomatoes and onions and serve with potato slices and you will be glad that they are there. The next time you meet a snake you look him in the eye and he will see all his brother and sisters in yours and he will go away with speed as he will know that he is the next one on the menu.

 

Gerhard

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We have a great interest in all animals, birds and reptiles and have been fortunate enough to meet up with a few creepy crawlies while out caching and in our own garden too. A really magnificent bright yellow puffadder came sailing towards us near Kleinmond and we've met up with Cape Cobra's and Boomslang around where we live.

 

Hungry Horse, a local geocacher in our area, always comes to assist those with snakes and removes them from our gardens and relocates them to the Nature Reserve, but not before educating the children at our local schools all about the snake in his possession. In this way we all are learning about these reptiles and learning to respect snakes too.

 

Just a little tip though, for those who are really concerned about snakes .............. pepper spray is what you need! The snake's skin is very sensitive and just a short, quick spray will send the unwanted guest slithering away, hopefully in the opposite direction!

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Wazat I had myself in a knot with laughter for your comment – that was good, I enjoyed it. Ok, the bottom line is – never ever do any caches with gerhardoosMPsa under any circumstances. You get to play with a boom slang, roll in the mud, have a long walk back to camp in darkness and you get to play with many spiders bigger than you face and you end up with tick bite at the same time. Your little lady will meet me with a broom in her hand the next time I knock on the door. And that is not for sweeping. :)

 

That reminds me - we still need to go and look for a special one in the Drakensberg. I hope you are prepared. Is your little black book up to date? On a serious note – that was one of the best times I ever had.

 

I love snakes. Catch them, cut the dangerous part off at the right vertebra, remove the skin and the stuff that is not good in the inside and cut him up in rings like calamari. Cook with tomatoes and onions and serve with potato slices and you will be glad that they are there. The next time you meet a snake you look him in the eye and he will see all his brother and sisters in yours and he will go away with speed as he will know that he is the next one on the menu.

 

Gerhard

 

Haa haa... It was an awesome weekend that. Rated up there as one of my best caching experiences ever. Although the rolling in the mud bit was not expected... Oooops. I am still keen on the one in the Berg. Just hope my finances pan out right soon. The D word did nice damage to my economic situation... LOL.

 

We can have a chat when you down here again.

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It must be snake season out there...

I crossed paths with 2 snakes in 2 days, and both times could feel my heart rate race like crazy...

 

The first one slithered across the path right in front of me (about 5 meters away) near Fluffy Monkey - cache...

I remembered something I read on this forum, and made lots of noise, stomping the ground and clapping hands like mad... It worked like a charm, 'cause this snake just made a beeline away from me...

 

The next day I did a hike above Chapman's Peak Drive, and everything was just honky dory on the mountain itself... But I had to trek back to the car along Chappies itself after wards... I didn't see this one until I was right next to it... He was on the curb, just where the shrubs start next to the road... I heard him before I saw him... Somehow I didn't think of stomping the ground with a snake about 1 meter away... I turned, faced it and slowly reversed away...

 

Maybe I was lucky, maybe vaguely remembering something from this forum helped, I don't know...

But I think I'm gonna reread all that was said here before, just to be sure...

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In most cases in RSA snakes have no interest in human beings. You are not on his food chain, maybe we taste bad. (lol) In most cases he will try to escape or he will hide. The bad part of this play starts when you step on him, when you trap him and you hurt him. He will hear you coming down the path long before you see him. He will always be aware of you before you are aware of him.

 

Always wear boots and long pants when you are in the bush. Most bites are on the lower part of the leg. Watch where you step. If there is a big rock in the path, do not step over the rock to place your foot on the other side when you can not see. Put your foot on the rock and then you will see the other side when you step off. If you place your hand on a tree watch where you place it. If there is a lot of grass hanging into the path way use a walking stick to lift the grass and keep the stick in front of you. The snake will go for the first moving object. In this case the walking stick and not the body.

 

Most important it is always good to learn how to “read” the terrain. Human beings are used to read from left to right. Only problem is that if you do this in the bush the eyes will just glide over the terrain without seeing anything. If you walk in the field, always but always learn to read any area in front of you from the right to the left. While walking down the foot path look at the right hand first then move the eyes to the left. You will see more detail. If you are in tree then look at the right hand side first then move the eyes to the left. It sounds crazy but trusts me. If you use this technique you will also see the cache hide more quickly.

 

If you do meet with a snake and he is ready to strike – move away slowly with no fast movement as quick as possible. The snake only wants to get away and he wants to be left in peace. If he diseaper in the bushes leave him alone and go the other way but keep your eyes open.

 

Just recently we found a snake in one of our production sections, everybody tried to kill it and he got into the cable trenches. They called me and I asked my men to move the covers. It was quite big but a normal brown house snake. As I lift it people scattered in all direction. The black people were more frightened than the white people. I told them that it is harmless but no one wants to touch it and everybody wanted it dead. I took it to the field next to the factory. So make sure you know snakes – there is plenty of books on it and make a point of studying them. If you meet one try to identify him – go home and verify your finding. If you can not remember the details carry a snake book with you. They are small and not that heavy.

 

If you get bitten the snake must go with you to the hospital. Boom slang is more dangerous. It will burn like hell but then it will stop and you could think you are ok. About 12 hours later it will be too late to save you. If bitten get to the hospital as fast as possible. The only real challenge is the black mamba. You have about 5 minutes for your last log if this one gets hold of you properly. He is also faster than you and you will not outrun him. If you are more than one person and a snake bite is experienced try to carry the person to a point of safety. Get help as fast as possible. Phone the ambulance before getting down the path. They must be ready when you down and back in civilization.

 

In serious places carry a serum with you but watch the expiry date and you have to know snakes to make sure you do not inject the wrong one. If someone needs more info when and what to do when a snake bite is experienced then I will add a link to the web page I use. But what to do is much more complex and it is easier not to get bitten than to deal with the actual snake bite.

 

Gerhard

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Thanks Gerhard..

 

It is better to be educated, than to be ignorant..

Your input is very valuable..

 

Right to Left ?

Very interesting...

I'll give it a try..

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You can not do caching in isolated areas without looking from right to left. If you do - you will miss the cache and you will not see the snake. This technique is easy to proof and I can not emphasize this enough. A cacher must be aware of this method and must practice it. It could make a difference when you are alone and you have to be aware of details and your surroundings. Not for snakes only but also the little surprises that can surprise you such as the guy waiting for you in the bush. While driving down the street, do the same – look from right to left and you will see details such as the name board, the child with the dog, the pot hole.

 

Go sit in your garden. Look from left to right. The eyes will just glide across the scene with no details. Now look from right to left. The eyes will now start to jump from item to item and it will focus on certain things such as “Where did that come from?”, “hell but I have to remove the weeds”, “grass needs a trim”, etc. If you do this you will discover the key why certain people see the snakes, cache and other details why others can not do see it. To enjoy anything beautiful always look from right to left – later on you will recall the scenery and the mind will have it stored as details.

 

This technique came part of me when I was in the bush. The actual technique is much more complex, you have to divide the complete area in three zones, always scan from the bottom to the top from right to left, look for patterns at the same time and forms, etc. We are so used to read from left to right and from the top of the page to the bottom of the page that we use this very same method when we walk in the bushes. But turn it the other way and the eye is confused and he is trying to focus on each and everything. But that is what you need.

 

I met a couple of snakes and each and every time I was aware of him. The last one was with Bakgat in the Botanical gardens – a black mamba.

 

If one do the basics you will be ok. Do not stick your hands in that dark hole without probing around the cache first. If he is there he will move. The danger is the puff adder he is a lazy bugger and in most cases he will stay where he is. You have to see him first before you feel him. If you use the wrong technique you a miss him.

 

The chance of getting bitten is low if you wear the right clothing and you are aware. Do not just sit down and relax, first look and also look in the little bush behind you and then sit down. I hope someone will learn something from this.

 

I will upload the link to snake bites tonight.

 

Gerhard

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Some good advice is given in the link below. Your chance of getting struck by lightening is much greater than to get bitten by a snake. I could be wrong but I read somewhere only 15 people died last year of snake bites. You have to study the details given on this web page and you will have all the tools needed. A good reference that you need to keep somewhere. Download the details and load it on your cell phone – if you are in trouble then refer to these notes. You are the master of your destiny – if you get bitten; make sure you have something you can use to help you. If needed keep the photos of the poisonous ones on your phone. Do not get bitten and then try to find the data on the internet. The risk is small but the consequences could be death so be prepared. Rather have the info with you and never use it then to go into panic mode because a snake such as a berg adder got to you. If you get bitten by him you will cry like a baby but you will survive, get a heart attack for nothing and you will not survive. Cachers are at risk and it is a real risk makes sure you are covered. All cachers have all the notes about every cache in RSA with them but yet they do not keep notes about the things that can hurt them and that can change their life in an instance.

Advice, identification, medical help, avoidance of snake bites.

 

Snake bite and assistance in what to do…

Medical advice

 

If your friends run away from you while you get bitten three times consider new friends. Just to show that you can survive even with a 3 km run for help. :laughing::anibad:

3 km run and still ok.

 

The following links contains pictures of the effect of snake bites and it could be offensive to certain people. But this is the real pictures and just maybe it will force someone to make sure the needed info is with him.

Effect of snake bites

Effect of snake bite

 

I hope it make a difference in reducing the risk to cachers.

Gerhard

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