Rattle snake bites.....

9:23 a.m. on October 22, 2003 (EDT)
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Do we have any herpetologists on board?

Recently, I have heard people debate rattle snake bites. Some say that the venom of the snake is deadly and will kill a human in average health within hours and some say that is not at all true and one can go days without medical treatment and not die.

Anyone know the real truth?

11:27 a.m. on October 22, 2003 (EDT)
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hmmm.....

Well I am not a herpetologist, and I personally have never been bitten, but I live, hike and backpack in rattler country. I know several people who have been bitten and are still alive, and did not receive medical treatment immediately. One friend didn't even realize he had been bitten for several days!

Obviously its wise to seek treatment ASAP... maybe it depends on the type of rattlesnake?!?!?

Some folks have built and maintain a HUGE hibernaculum for the snakes in this area, so when people who live on the golf course find rattlesnakes in their yards, they can take them somewhere. Good idea I think - this way when the babies are born they will return to the hibernaculum each year rather than the peoples yards. Fascinating critters, really.

11:41 a.m. on October 22, 2003 (EDT)
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Ouch...

Quote:

Do we have any herpetologists on board?

Not me.

Quote:

Recently, I have heard people debate rattle snake bites. Some say that the venom of the snake is deadly and will kill a human in average health within hours and some say that is not at all true and one can go days without medical treatment and not die.

Anyone know the real truth?

I think really might depend on both the snake and the type of snake. Get bit by a Mojave Green rattlesnake, full envenomation, you'd better be close to a horsepital. Get bit by a nervious old western diamondback, you might get no venom at all.

Hit, and, ahem, miss.

One thing I've heard, is the cut and suck treatment is way out. I hear tell of testing where folks have been "envenomated" with a syringe, then cutting and suction applies to see how much juice comes out. Very little. Probably makes more sense to "RICE" than anything else, and try to get to medical attention.

Seems like several folk get bit out here (Utah) every year with very little to no ill effects. I think more folks die of bee stings. And, was a feller that lost a ton of flesh to a spider bite.

I dunno. Knock on wood, but, I think that if I got bit in a real remote area, miles and many hours away from medical treatment, I'd probably hurry up and wait to see what type of swelling I got, whilst tryin' to evaluate the snake type and size. I think older/bigger snakes tend to strike out of fear and not predation, and will inject very little juice. Problem out here is, there are a number of different types of snakes, so, being able to tell a great basin from a pygmy (quite small full grown), might make a difference.

If I didn't get much local swelling, and didn't feel too bad after a couple of hours, then I'd consider myself lucky and probably not worry about tryin' to hurry to medical attention. But, realistically, I'd probably perish from the shock of it all (seem to have lost my boyhood fearlessness of snakes).

If I get bit in the backyard (we get the occasional rattlesnake in town here), easy money, I'm clinic or ER bound. But, there's many a time when I'm a long ways from help.

Anyone know proper protocal for gettin' bit in a remote area? Ie, whats the WFR (wilderness first responder) recommended treatment for snake bites?

Brian in SLC

12:15 p.m. on October 22, 2003 (EDT)
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I do carry the......

Sawyer "extractor" snake bite kit. Supposedly this will suck out venom without the need to make any slices in your skin. I understand this is the latest in snake bite technology.

12:40 p.m. on October 22, 2003 (EDT)
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Not a herpetologist, but I did get bit once when I was about 16 years old. Since I'm still here, obviously folks live through it. Statistically, the vast majority of people bitten by rattlesnakes (and pit vipers in North America generally) do live, even without treatment.

Buck Tilton's book "Don't Get Bitten" is a good summary of who gets bitten, when, where, and what to do about it (Mountaineers Press - you can order direct if your local store doesn't have it, and AAC members get a discount). He does have one error that I learned from my one personal experience, but otherwise it is very accurate.

A few tidbits -

The folks who most commonly get bit are people who attempt to kill, capture, or otherwise handle the snake. Most common profile is a young, intoxicated male, 17-27 years old, who intentionally messes with one (well, I was younger, not intoxicated, but basically harassing it, so 2 out of 3)

7000-8000 bites a year in the US, typical years recently have had 5-6 fatalities, but earlier was up to 15, and 1983-1998 only 10 total for the 15 years. The reason for the lower death rate recently is probably wide availability of antivenin.

Cut and suck turns out to be more fatal than the bite itself. So medical advice is do NOT do the old cut and suck. The Sawyer suction device has some slight helpful effect (as Brian notes), but again, do not cut. Antivenin is the only effective treatment (although for some of the super-poisonous Australian snakes, there are ways to slow the effects while getting to the antivenin).

Maximum crawl speed of pit vipers is 3 mph, so you can easily outwalk one (they sometimes apparently get confused and crawl toward people, but usually just try to get away).

1 out of 4 or 5 bites is dry, 75-80 percent have some envenomization.

The 5 most "fatal" states in order are Arizona (where I grew up), Florida (hey, Ed, watch it!), Georgia, Texas, Alabama.

Tilton's advice when you are bitten -

If you are alone, walk out slowly with frequent rest breaks.

Otherwise, he has a list of 14 things, most of which are "do not do ..." Basically, keep the victim calm and at rest with the bitten part level or slightly below the heart. Evacuate by carrying (or slow walking if alone). Keep the victim well-hydrated unless they develop pronounced vomiting. Get them to the antivenin ASAP. (the antivenin takes 12-18 vials for a cost of $12,000 to $17,000.

12:44 p.m. on October 22, 2003 (EDT)
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Sawyer

Quote:

Sawyer "extractor" snake bite kit. Supposedly this will suck out venom without the need to make any slices in your skin. I understand this is the latest in snake bite technology.

It sucks out a small fraction of the venom, perhaps 20-30 percent, according to published reports. The only really effective treatment is antivenin.

12:56 p.m. on October 22, 2003 (EDT)
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Thanks Bill!.........

As always - good stuff.

So, it seems that if I do get bitten while bushwacking thru the palmettos, I can relax (yea right) and I do have time to hike myself to medical attention.

Probably the longest hike I would have to do is about six miles to a ranger or a radio.

6:43 p.m. on October 22, 2003 (EDT)
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Make that "should relax"

You have a better chance of survival if envenomated if you relax and hike slowly to the ranger's with frequent breaks. But "better chance" does not mean "guaranteed survival", just that the odds are much better. And the odds of survival are pretty good, based on the statistics.

Then again, the odds of losing the lottery are pretty good, as well, and yet, someone generally wins the big prize and a number of people get the smaller prizes. In the case of snake bite, the big prize is "you die" and the smaller prizes are "you get really sick".

Don't get complacent, and don't try hassling the snake like I did.

Hmmmmm, they are always asking old geezers what they did to live so long. I may not be that old yet, but maybe my answer was "got bit by a rattlesnake." And the rest of the story is "and the snake died." Really. I had him/her pickled in formaldehyde for many years until my mother threw the jar out during one of her moves. I thought it was a nice souvenier and didn't understand why she tossed it. Oh, well, at least I have photos.

9:02 a.m. on October 23, 2003 (EDT)
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a.k.a. Scott, Scott M

If I were to get bit I would try to get medical help as soon as I could. I would say more people live after being bit than die, but it can happen. My wife's cousin, when they were around 10 years old, was bit by a rattlesnake on his grandfather's farm in middle Georia. They got him to a hospital and seemed to be recovering. Parents went home to get some rest and the Grandmother stayed with the boy. All of a sudden things turned worse and he died. I think it was within 24 hours of getting bit.

My wife now freaks out at any kind of snake siting. I've only come across poisonous snakes twice in all my rompings. Both times in the Cohutta Wilderness of North Georgia. One time we were hiking in at 11:00 at night in August and a copperhead (I think) struck at my wife. Another time, we came across a rattlesnake on the trail. I think it was hurt since it didn't even rattle at us so we just went way around it.

Quote:

Not a herpetologist, but I did get bit once when I was about 16 years old. Since I'm still here, obviously folks live through it. Statistically, the vast majority of people bitten by rattlesnakes (and pit vipers in North America generally) do live, even without treatment.

Buck Tilton's book "Don't Get Bitten" is a good summary of who gets bitten, when, where, and what to do about it (Mountaineers Press - you can order direct if your local store doesn't have it, and AAC members get a discount). He does have one error that I learned from my one personal experience, but otherwise it is very accurate.

A few tidbits -

The folks who most commonly get bit are people who attempt to kill, capture, or otherwise handle the snake. Most common profile is a young, intoxicated male, 17-27 years old, who intentionally messes with one (well, I was younger, not intoxicated, but basically harassing it, so 2 out of 3)

7000-8000 bites a year in the US, typical years recently have had 5-6 fatalities, but earlier was up to 15, and 1983-1998 only 10 total for the 15 years. The reason for the lower death rate recently is probably wide availability of antivenin.

Cut and suck turns out to be more fatal than the bite itself. So medical advice is do NOT do the old cut and suck. The Sawyer suction device has some slight helpful effect (as Brian notes), but again, do not cut. Antivenin is the only effective treatment (although for some of the super-poisonous Australian snakes, there are ways to slow the effects while getting to the antivenin).

Maximum crawl speed of pit vipers is 3 mph, so you can easily outwalk one (they sometimes apparently get confused and crawl toward people, but usually just try to get away).

1 out of 4 or 5 bites is dry, 75-80 percent have some envenomization.

The 5 most "fatal" states in order are Arizona (where I grew up), Florida (hey, Ed, watch it!), Georgia, Texas, Alabama.

Tilton's advice when you are bitten -

If you are alone, walk out slowly with frequent rest breaks.

Otherwise, he has a list of 14 things, most of which are "do not do ..." Basically, keep the victim calm and at rest with the bitten part level or slightly below the heart. Evacuate by carrying (or slow walking if alone). Keep the victim well-hydrated unless they develop pronounced vomiting. Get them to the antivenin ASAP. (the antivenin takes 12-18 vials for a cost of $12,000 to $17,000.

10:11 a.m. on October 23, 2003 (EDT)
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Something else is that several of the people who die in the US each year from bites are snake handlers who refuse medical attention. So, if you get medical attn reasonably quickly, you've got a great chance of survival.

1:21 p.m. on October 23, 2003 (EDT)
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I've heard...

...that the increased trauma and related bloodflow from using the local suction actually increases the venoms damage and spread throughtout the body. Brians idea of RICE and medical attention is probably the best.

Also have heard that not all snake bites inject venom.

ag

6:00 p.m. on October 23, 2003 (EDT)
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unless is a coral snake...

What about coral snakes, copperheads and cotton mouths?

7:37 p.m. on October 23, 2003 (EDT)
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Copperheads and cottonmouths are pit vipers

Same procedure as rattlesnakes.

Coral snakes, to quote Tilton again, "are poorly adapted to bite humans." They almost always have to hang on and chew to get venom in, so "you may have ample time, and are well advised, to snatch off a chewing coral snake before it chews long enough to inject venom." The estimate is that coral snake bites are in the range of 20-60 per year, and the last confirmed human death from a coral probably in 1959. Signs and symptoms take as much as 12-13 hours, so early evacuation when there is suspicion of a coral bite is "strongly advised." The venom is second only to the Mojave rattler in toxicity in the US. This is a case where pressure-immobilization technique may be of use, since corals are elapids, close relatives of some of the most deadly of the Australian snakes.

7:58 p.m. on October 23, 2003 (EDT)
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RICE - advised against

Quote:

...that the increased trauma and related bloodflow from using the local suction actually increases the venoms damage and spread throughtout the body. Brians idea of RICE and medical attention is probably the best.

I have several books that discuss snake bites besides Tilton's, and also Paul Auerbach, one of the world's experts on venomous beasties, here locally (he is one of the MDs we use for our Scout leader courses, since his son was in one our council's troops). All the current books and Auerbach state flatly that rest is good (unless slow walking is the only way to get to medical help), ice is a very bad idea (the advice in the books also says not to immerse the wound in cold water), compression has no proven value for pit vipers although it works for many elapid bites (proven for Australian elapids, but not for coral snakes which are the only US elapid), and elevation is a very bad idea (advice is to keep the bitten part level or lower than the heart).

Tilton, Auerbach, and other books say that the Sawyers and similar suction devices may do some good and extract a small amount of the venom. They do not mention any increase of damage from the venom. I will have to ask Auerbach next time I see him.

Medical attention, notably antivenin, is the major recommendation.

Quote:

Also have heard that not all snake bites inject venom.

Correct, as I already posted. There is speculation that rattlesnakes may instinctively realize that humans are too big to swallow and hence "save" their venom for more productive uses.

Funny how getting bitten once inspires one to learn all you can about snakes.

Some trivia -

Lethal dose for some snakes per kilogram of victim -

small-scaled (fierce) snake (an Australian elapid) - 0.01 mg (considered to be the most potent venom in the world)

Indian cobra (another elapid) - 0.50 mg (supposedly potent enough and enough volume in one bite to kill an elephant)

average American rattlesnake - 11.40 mg

These numbers were determined (hide your eyes, PETA members) by injecting mice.

4:16 p.m. on November 12, 2003 (EST)
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The Sawer extrctor should only be used for 10-30 min. after that you are concentraiting the poisin which will caused more localized damage (the venom is used by the snakes to start the digestion process) Also drinking lots of water will increase your swelling (not good) so limit fluids. Another things I would suggest is taking Vitimin C this has been used in saving dogs and horses by injecting it via needle to the localized area. It helps the body carry away the toxin, I include a Vit C pill with my Sawyer extractor. Another thing, taking benidril (sp) will help the body just incase you have an allergic reaction to anti-venom... take it a couple hours before you get anti-venom. Keep a detailed log of what is done to treat the victim. If you are deep in the wilderness (very few places exist) I recomend hiking out if you can make it to a phone or car within 8 hrs... the venom takes many hours to kill and getting the help soon is better than staying there and waiting it out. If two hours from help tie a wide bandage (one inch wide) between the bite and heart but not too tight, you should be able to slip in a finger.

9:07 a.m. on November 22, 2003 (EST)
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Quote:

If you where to cross t he path of a poisonous snake. Do not try to handle, mess, or play with the snake that is how most people get bitten. SO what you do if slowly no sudeen movements walk way way around it. DON'T make sudden movements DONT yell or scream. DONT throw anything at it. DONT try to handel it or anything like that. IF you do everything right you should not get bitten. FI it dose bit you.....and with a friend have your friend carry you or you carry him/her. Keep him/her calm and yourself if you get bit.

Then who ever is npot bit drive to a hospital and tell them you need anivenum and tell them what kind of snake bit you......If you are alone drive yourself to a Hospitsal. Go as quickly as possible WITHOUT hitting people.

10:36 p.m. on February 24, 2004 (EST)
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Quote:

Do we have any herpetologists on board?

I HEARD THAT IF YOU WERE BITTEN BY A RATTLE SNAKE, YOU CANT EAT RABBIT MEAT? IS THIS TRUE AND WHY?

8:02 p.m. on November 3, 2004 (EST)
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I was bitten by a rattle snake in the ankle, over the summer, while I was in Mexico. Now I am having pain in that leg, calf, hip and lower back on that same side approx-5 months latter. I did not get treatment in Mexico for fear of not survivig their E.R. I did not get treatment in the states since it was 2-3 weeks after the bite. Does anyone have suggestions?????????

9:08 p.m. on April 23, 2005 (EDT)
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Jeff
I'd get that leg looked at. I understand rattlesnake venom causes tissues to break down and it may have damaged something. Since it happened in Mexico you're lucky it wasn't a Mojave Green rattler - I say that because you would be dead - they have a nerve toxin that the other rattlers don't, or maybe it was and you got lucky. Don't mess with it - see a doctor.
Jim S

5:28 a.m. on April 24, 2005 (EDT)
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Jim, I would say if he hasn't been to a doc by now (5 months later)...

it just doesn't matter.

I discovered how to avoid rattlesnake bites all together. I recently ordered size 88 boots from the Ringling College bookstore in Sarasota.

Them snakies can feel me coming down the trail from 200 yards away

7:15 p.m. on April 28, 2005 (EDT)
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The Sawyer Extractor is out
5:47 a.m. on April 29, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: The Sawyer Extractor is out

I guess I will now loose a few more ounces in my pack!

Thanks for posting the update.

8:33 a.m. on April 29, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: The Sawyer Extractor is out

Doesn't this just confirm the conventional wisdom -- that it' might help, but you don't want to bet your life on it?

12:42 p.m. on April 29, 2005 (EDT)
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Venomous critters and conventional wisdom

Seems like just about all the "proven" remedies I heard about or even was taught in 1st aid courses have gotten thrown out as time goes on. When I was a kid growing up in the Arizona desert, we were told that you should put a horsehair rope around your sleeping bag to keep the rattlesnakes away - it would tickle their bellies as they attempted to crawl over it. I had doubts about this one when I saw rattlers crawling through cholla debris. We were told that if you got bit by a rattlesnake, coral snake, Gila monster, tarantula, scorpion, or black widow (hadn't heard about brown recluse at that point), whiskey would neutralize the poison. We also were told to use the "slash and burn" method - tie a tight tourniquet, cut two X's on the fang marks, and suck (with your mouth, and spit the venom out). Later we got these little kits with 2 rubber suction cups (fit together to form the package) a piece of string (for the tourniquet), and an eXacto knife blade (sterilize by holding it in a match flame). We now know that the number of people losing limbs due to gangrene and dying from sepsis brought on by this approach is far higher than the number who die of the bites. By the time I was in high school, the famous Dr. Stahnke of Univ of Arizona had come out with the L-C treatment. This "ligature - cryotherapy" approach consisted of tying a tight ligature (basically a tourniquet that you don't loosen) and chilling the area by either dunking in ice water (in the desert?!?!!?) or spraying with a CO2 bottle. The idea was that the ligature would cut the circulation from putting the poison in the rest of the body until antibodies could be generated, while the chilled area would slow the chemical reactions of the poison. Hey, that's what I used for the rattler that bit me! Turns out to 1. promote gangrene, same as any other tourniquet, 2. the ice water causes the skin to swell up so any swelling due to the poison is masked, and 3. the CO2 spray often caused serious frostbite because people would thoroughly freeze the area. Well, some years later, my sister worked for Dr Stahnke as a lab assistant while she went to U of A, got hit by a particularly venomous South American scorpion in the lab, and nearly died (something like a week in intensive care, despite having antivenim available).

The Sawyer came along about 10 or 15 years ago, along with all sorts of studies to prove its effectiveness. However, in the last 2 wilderness first aid classes I have taken (so starting about 3 or 4 years ago) we were told that the Sawyer was shown to be ineffective. I have generally taken my courses from WMI, whose website Les referenced, but I have also gotten the same thing from my winter course staffer who is a American Red Cross WFA instructor, and more recently from Eric Weiss, who is one of the wilderness medicine gurus.

Ticks were supposed to be removed by unscrewing them, burning their tails with a match until they backed out, painting them with nail polish so they suffocated, and on and on. You weren't supposed to just pull them out (current wisdom is use tweezers shaped with a little cup that fits under the body so you don't squeeze the now-infected blood back in, and don't worry about leaving the head parts - and no, tick mouth parts are not shaped like a corkscrew).

There are, as I previously mentioned, snakes of the elapid family for which direct pressure appears to provide some help. But for all poisonous critters, the only thing that has actually proven out is prompt medical attention using an appropriate antivenin.

Oh, yeah, for the do it yourselfer, you can now get a medical body stapler kit for those major lacerations suffered on the trail, along with coagulant dressings to speed clotting of the blood. I saw these in the most recent Cabela's camping and backpacking catalog. Soon there will be a complete, ultralight ER crash cart for your pack. Hey, that might go along with my mail-order MD diploma!

3:31 a.m. on July 4, 2005 (EDT)
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Contact Dr. Bush at Loma Linda University in CA. He is a rattlesnale bite expert.

3:37 a.m. on July 4, 2005 (EDT)
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I now wear snake gaitors designed to prevent snake bites. I also carry a six-foot long, thin, light but strong hiking stick.

I am considering switching to some new snake gaitors from TurtleSkin, which Cabelas sells. They have Vectran. Very thin, light and soft, but expensive at $125.

9:35 a.m. on July 4, 2005 (EDT)
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I have (2) pair of Turtleskin Gaitors I bought for a trip to Arizona. One pair was never used the other used once. Will sell for $95.00

4:28 p.m. on August 17, 2005 (EDT)
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I'm not a herpetologist, but I can tell you the following: Rattlesnake bites do not necessarily involve envenomation, but if they do the results can be extremely serious. Every bite should be assumed to be envenomated. Rattlesnake venom is a hemotoxin (venom attacks blood and tissue). In the case of the Mohave rattlesnake (and some Western Diamondback rattlesnakes that are result of cross-breeding with Mohave rattlesnakes, the venom is both a hemotoxin and a neurotoxin. The old Boy Scout Manual remedies of cut and suck, tourniquets, etc. are no longer accepted since they can both cause serious damage through cutting nerves, etc. if practiced by those who are not physicians and do not have a detailed knowledge of anatomy (many bites are on the hands and wrists, where the risk of such damage is particularly great) and because they often increase the effects of envenomation. The best remedy is the use of a set of car keys: get to a hospital for treatment as rapidly as possible. Since venom is carried largely through the lymph system, one useful short-term remedy is to tie an Ace bandage above the bite (between the bite and the heart) to slow the spread of the venom until medical attention is available. The best time for treatment is within the first hour after envenomation as the damage to tissue should be arrested as soon as possible.

11:48 a.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)

Here's a small site of a youngster who got bitten by one of those rattlesnakes you're talking about.
(Don't look at the pictures section before reading the contents)

http://www.rattlesnakebite.org/index.htm

Like many said, most snake bites these days aren't lethal, but I wouldn't recommend not going to the hospital.

6:31 p.m. on August 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Warning! Photos may be too intense ---

Man, even with all the training in first aid and seeing way too many injuries during my too many decades of life, those were really gruesome images! You should have a strong "Viewer Discretion STRONGLY Advised" notice. My MD buddy thought they were great, however. I guess my little snake encounter was pretty trivial by comparison.

7:41 a.m. on August 21, 2005 (EDT)

The most important thing you can do is positively identify the snake that bit you. First-aid, treatment and antivenin is different for different species.

There are three basic classes of toxins that are secreted by snakes in the world--hemotoxin, cytotoxin, and neurotoxin. Hemotoxins destroy the cells of blood preferentially, cytotoxins generally destroy cells(I think most would consider cytotoxins and hemotoxins subclasses of the same type of toxin), and the neurotoxins destroy nervous tissues. FOR THE MOST PART rattlesnakes have toxins of the hemotoxin/cytotoxic variety. While other groups are mostly neurotoxin (Elapidae for example). As has been indicated by others many species have a cocktail of both.

Tunicates are most valuable for the nerotoxic variety. These kill by stopping vital organs, so if you can keep the toxin from working up a leg and to the heart and lungs, than you will be better for it. Tourniquets for more than 30 minutes are bad.

The cytotoxic, hemotoxic varieties work by destroying the ability of tissue to get blood and thus oxygen by disrupting blood flow. Guess what a tourniquet does, guess what slicing open your arm does--the same thing.

There is no doubt that the less venom that has a chance to react with your body and tissue the less of a problem the bite will be, but getting excited (yeah right), and massaging the poison in by trying to squeeze it out will certainly not help.

Antivenin treatment is not without risks. Many of the problems that are seen during the treatment of snakebites are systemic (whole body) anaphylactic (allergic)reactions to antivenin. The chances of this happening are much greater if you have ever received anti venom before. Therefore if you can 100% ID the snake that bit you the doctor can confidently use the appropriate antivenin and not have to use a shotgun approach to treat you. Envenomation behavior is also different for different species so this will also help tailor appropriate treatment.

Many people who work with snakes can and do build up immunity to the venom, by surviving a bite. Snake charmers actually tattoo themselves with ink that has a small amount of venom in it.

Snake bites also often have severe secondary infections due to the bacteria that snakes like to keep in their mouths. Nasty antibiotic resistant gram negative bacteria are the norm.

Location of the snake bite is also very important. A neurotoxin in the hand or the ankle is the best place you could hope to get it. In the face or the neck is not a good thing (the further these toxins have to go to get to the heart, lungs, brain the better. A cytotoxin in the hand or ankle is not ideal. The best place for these would be in a meaty part away from any vitals--butt, calf, etc. These areas have a lot of blood flow so if one blood vessel gets shut down others can supply blood, and they have a lot of room for swelling so once again blood flow is not compromised by swelling.


Recommendations for first aid from a veternarian/herpatolagist(me) NOT A SNAKE BITE DOCTOR.

Stay Calm
Identify the snake
Wash and sanitize the wound
Tailor first-aid treatment to the type of snake, the person bitten, and the location of the bite.
Seek further medical aid as calmly as possible.

Two stories:

I worked in Africa for a while, so I got to hear some good snake tales.

A park ranger was out on patrol when he ambushed a black mamba who rose up and struck him in the shoulder near the neck, before scurrying for cover. They can easily strike that high, and actually aim for the face. Knowing that the black mamba likes to use a good amount of venom even in defensive posture, and that the toxin is neurotoxic, the ranger feared the worst. The first thing he did was write out a quick note that he was bitten by a black mamba at such and such a time--and asking for help and telling them what they needed to do (and what they shouldn't do). He then calmly hiked back to his truck several miles away on a back road. Once he got to the vehicle he was not is good shape and quickly passed out. A passerby found him some 2 hours after the bite, and followed the instructions. He was taken to the hospital given antivenin and supportive treatment, and survived.

Another acquaintance got bitten in the hand by a Gaboon viper as a child. Gaboon Vipers are the most beautiful snake in the work IMVHO. He survived but not without a fasiectomy and months of reconstructive surgery similar to the story above.

basher-boy

6:11 p.m. on August 21, 2005 (EDT)
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Herpetologist... Yes, but North American Colubrids! No Hots here... My personal experience is mostly removal and relocation of Crotalus viridis oreganus (Western Rattlesnake) I have never been bit, but I do carry a Sawyer extractor as a part of my gear below 7000ft in the Sierras... Why 7000ft??? because I have never seen a RS above this altitude in the Sierra. Documented to 9200ft in the Sierra, I have just never seen them... This summer we ran into a 3+ft just at 7000ft near Silver Lake California. This was the first in about 8 years in the Silver Lake area! Below 6000ft you can just about find them anywhere... At 5818ft Bear River reservoir off Hwy 88 is loaded this year with snake sightings. Since I mostly study the Colubrids in the Mokelumne Wilderness, I keep elevation in mind when snake hunting!
Most everyone that has posted has great information, Thanks... Your posts mirror the Scientific Communities Thoughts in that most are split on initial treatment when it comes to Snake bite Kits of any kind. All agree that anyone that is bitten should seek medical attention, Duh!
Have fun, be Bear Aware and Snake Safe!

Ken
www.bpmaniacs.com

4:04 p.m. on September 18, 2005 (EDT)
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Hi...I live in Arizona and recently was visiting a friend in the emergency room at Tucson Medical Center. A young man was airlifted from Wilcox, AZ to the emergency room after being bitten by a Mojave Rattle Snake. He was already in a coma and died 3 days later. He was a German tourist just visiting Arizona. He was bitten on the hand. After researching the Mojave Rattle Snake, I have found that the venom is neurovenim, which differs from the regular Diamond Back Rattlesnake. Neurovenim affects the resperatory system and is almost always deadly. The difference in appearance of the mojave rattlesnake and the Diamond Back Rattler is slight, it has something to do with the size of the black and white rings at the end of the tail. This young man was only 36 years old and extremely fit and healthy and the snake bite killed him. That is what I know about rattlesnakes and the various venim's. Hope this helps! Judy Lynch

6:00 p.m. on September 22, 2005 (EDT)
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Sawyer recommended *against*

I came across this note on the Wilderness Medicine Institute's website. Since a couple of the posts suggest the Sawyer, I figured I better post it. Looks like the experts have evidence that the Sawyer suction device is ineffective, and antivenin is the only reasonable remedy, besides just not getting bit.

http://www.nols.edu/wmi/curriculum_updates/archive/041105_sawyer.shtml

10:44 p.m. on October 6, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sawyer recommended *against*

Thanks to all who have contributed to this topic. I read it the first time quite a few months ago. This is indeed a very serious subject.

What I wonder the most is why people are relying on medical opinions and research to discredit methods other than those used by the medical profession. Antivenon is more than $25,000. Surgeries are very expensive. Total costs can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a snake bite.

Sadly, in other types of situations, for example cancer, heart disease, aids, the medical and drug industry has repeatedly lied and continued to do so. This is very well known, yes? Even if some of you still have faith in them, you must know most of what they continue to promote and say is for the sake of their profits and not true.

The purpose of this message is not to attack them, but to question that giving keys to the chicken coop to the wolves is such a great idea. Surely there are better options? Using a dummy to say that an extractor is not effective on humans sounds like a joke. Surely than can't call that experiement, but it is surely and easy excuse to discredit a comparatively inexpensive method for reduction of snake bites.

I want to also question why horse venom, a very toxic formulation of itself, would be considered the most viable method for reduction of snake bites.

I just find that totally incredulous and, personally, I don't believe it. Surely there are others who agree there can be other useful methods for the reduction of snake bites.

Let's continue to focus on what can be done, and not just focus on profits. A lot of people have been suffering and also died because of snake bites. The important thing is to be able to help them.

11:19 a.m. on October 7, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sawyer recommended *against*

So what is your proposed treatment for snake bites, prayer, witch doctor, herbs from your neighborhood health food store, or what? It sounds like you believe that doctors are in the business of actively and visciously trying to kill and maim people instead of helping them.

There are lots of statistical studies that show that more people died or had amputations from the old cut 2 X's and suck method than from untreated snake bites, even in cases where the autopsy showed envenomation. Sawyer themselves never claimed that all the venom was removed, but that about 20 percent was removed at best. That's what it says on the piece of paper that is in the Sawyer's kit I bought several years ago. The statistics on antivenin that are published show that close to 100 percent of those who clearly had venom from the bite survive with antivenin treatment if they get it started within 4-5 hours, and even a lot if it is longer, depending on the type of snake and venom.

6:49 p.m. on October 7, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sawyer recommended *against*

>What I wonder the most is why people are relying on medical opinions and research to discredit methods other than those used by the medical profession.

Be specific. What methods?

And, what about non medical folks, like, say herptologists, research scientists, etc, who are NOT tied straight into the medical profession, or the drug industry?

An interesting thing to do, is, go to a snake handling show, done by a long time professional herptologist, and, ask them what they'd do if they were bit. The ones I asked (in AZ at the Sonoran Desert Museum) would be taking the antivenom route, to be sure. They didn't seem the type to be fooled by some profit driven mumbo jumbo.

>Antivenon is more than $25,000. Surgeries are very expensive. Total costs can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a snake bite.

Cheaper to die, perhaps.

>Sadly, in other types of situations, for example cancer, heart disease, aids, the medical and drug industry has repeatedly lied and continued to do so. This is very well known, yes? Even if some of you still have faith in them, you must know most of what they continue to promote and say is for the sake of their profits and not true.

The above statement is total rubbish. "Most"? Hogwash. You sound like you have some sort of grudge.

Who, then, to put this faith into?

Data is data.

>I want to also question why horse venom, a very toxic formulation of itself, would be considered the most viable method for reduction of snake bites.

What is "very toxic" about anti venom made from horse blood? Please, do tell.

>I just find that totally incredulous and, personally, I don't believe it. Surely there are others who agree there can be other useful methods for the reduction of snake bites.

I'd bet there is a ton of data supporting the use of anti venom's out there. Its not whether or not you have faith in it, or believe in it, but whether there is actual hard data which exists which would prove that it actually is effective. And there is.

There's a ton of research being done, and that has been done, on snake bites and venom.

>Let's continue to focus on what can be done, and not just focus on profits. A lot of people have been suffering and also died because of snake bites. The important thing is to be able to help them.

Yep, help, no matter if there's a profit or not. In fact, lets not discuss this profit thing again. Or, how expensive some type of treatment is. Instead, lets do what is best for helping the patient.

-Brian in SLC

3:55 p.m. on October 12, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sawyer recommended *against*

Fine let's have all treatments be the same cost then.

$20 per treatment should be enough.

After all the antivenom doesn't cost much more than this anyway, if that.

And regarding the studies, what "studies". I haven't seen one credible study that proves antivenom is better than anything else. The medical line that's better than tying your arm up for 5 hours while cutting it apart and/or dying is not much of an alternative is it. That's a close minded attitude. Sure the anti venom is also better than getting run over by a truck.

I don't buy those arguments.

Show me the methods that work and that are NOT based only on profits.

6:40 p.m. on October 12, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sawyer recommended *against*

Hmmmmm ..... you want to eliminate all treatments that do not produce a profit for someone (yeah, yeah, you said "not based on profit"). Well, let's see now. You like the Sawyer kit. Last time I looked, Sawyer was a for-profit company, and they get the materials and machinery to make their kit from for-profit companies. Their employees and the stores that sell the kits do not work for free or for absolute minimum subsistence expense coverage, so they are profiting as well.

Brian asked a legitimate question that you have not answered. Namely, you seem to have a grudge against the medical profession. One might guess that it involved a treatment that was unsuccessful, or involved a cost that you deem excessive, or any number of other things. Brian's question was essentially, where are you coming from? Why do you feel so strongly against the medical profession? What is the basis of your very strong negative statements?

I have been acquainted with Doc Forgey (of Sawyer) for a number of years and have a lot of respect for him. I use various Sawyer products, lately the very effective (for me at least) timed release Deet-based insect repellent. But I also have had personal experience with various venomous bites (a western diamondback bite for me, a near-fatal sting from one of the world's most deadly scorpions for my sister in her research work, to mention the two closest to home), and am acquainted with a number of people doing research in the area of venomous amimals (Paul Auerbach here at Stanford, for example). While it is not my field, I have read much of the research and asked a lot of questions. As Brian noted, there is a lot of data out there to support the statement that the most effective treatment is antivenin in a timely manner.

To be a bit more specific than Brian, I would ask you to provide references to refereed articles that provide detailed descriptions of the research and the resulting data to support your contention that antivenin is ineffective and that specific other methods are more effective.

2:03 a.m. on October 19, 2005 (EDT)
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Re: Sawyer recommended *against*

>$20 per treatment should be enough.

Hey, sounds like my insurance co-pay...'bout 20 years ago.

>After all the antivenom doesn't cost much more than this anyway, if that.

Oh yeah it does.

>And regarding the studies, what "studies". I haven't seen one credible study that proves antivenom is better than anything else.

There's tons of studies. Do a websearch for starters. Then, try a medical or research library at a university.

>Show me the methods that work and that are NOT based only on profits.

Profit or not, there isn't anything that works besides antivenom.

Sorta begs the question, what would you do if you got bit? Refuse medical treatment?

Good luck.

-Brian in SLC

Quick websearch:

http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic541.htm

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/410559_print

See references for the above.

Ton of stuff here:

http://herplit.com/

http://www.cdc.gov/nasd/docs/d000001-d000100/d000054/d000054.html

12:33 p.m. on November 26, 2005 (EST)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Pitt, pjpitt

Given the risk of encounter (I walk about 15 miles a month on various trails in SW desert), I am not sure that gaitors offer the protection they claim (none cover the foot very well and snakes hit feet (on "Venom ER") more than half the time. The suction gear are obviously worthless. Snakebite DO kill. The worse risk is stepping on one that is unable to get out of your way (if they feel your coming). It's very hard to say what is the right thing to do. AFTER A BITE the ER is the ONLY thing to do and ASAP. Before a bit -- obviously avoid them if you can. But if you do not see them, and they do not see you -- you have an encounter. Other (equal?) threats -- mad bees (Africanized) and cougars (if you are alone).

5:51 p.m. on November 30, 2005 (EST)
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Here is an alternative to expensive gaitors, which don't even come in women's sizes as far as I can tell. I cruise thrift stores and find cheap used cowboy boots or riding boots. I cut out the sole leaving enough of the sides so they come down over my hiking boots as much as possible. This is no excuse to not watch where I put my hands and feet, but it makes me feel a little safer.

8:27 a.m. on January 19, 2006 (EST)
(Guest)

thay can kill whithin half an hour

8:28 a.m. on January 19, 2006 (EST)
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you are lucky your lucky you dident die
i have respect for you

9:13 p.m. on January 29, 2006 (EST)
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Ever find the answer to this question?

11:17 a.m. on January 30, 2006 (EST)
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No, I never did.

I'm still not sure that if I get bit by a rattle snake if I'm gonna die within 15 seconds or end up on a talk show with Pat Robertson.

I guess it's best to be prepared for both options. Next time I go backpacking, I'll carry a coffin and a baby blue suit.

I know for sure that if my camping partner ever gets bit in the crotch by a rattle snake...he's gonna die.

10:36 p.m. on February 7, 2006 (EST)
(Guest)

The cutting, sucking, and venom (suction) extractors have been shown to do more harm than good. If you are tagged by a N. American pit viper, allow and encourage the puncture wounds to bleed for the first minute or so, then LEAVE IT ALONE. Get to help asap, try to stay calm and don't try any folk remedies.(especially electric shock or alcohol)

If possible, immobilize the limb at heart level. You will know within minutes if venom was injected (or not) by the immediate swelling and severe pain.

Even without treatment, your chances of survival are quite good. One exception: you are a long way from help, and get a good shot from a large Mojave.

12:28 a.m. on March 18, 2006 (EST)
(Guest)

Re: Sawyer

hmm rattlesnake bite treatment, well generally first thing is to wrap the site with a compression bandage and get medical help, the compression bandage is the "only" way to slow the movement of the venom, and cutting and sucking just causes infection for the most part. Best to be safe then sorry.

8:40 a.m. on March 21, 2006 (EST)
(Guest)

did any one ever get bite by a arizona carol snake before.

12:59 p.m. on March 21, 2006 (EST)
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A "carol" snake??

Gee, in all the years I lived in Arizona, I never saw a "carol" snake. Saw a number of coral snakes, but never a "carol" snake.

Coral snakes are elapids, which makes them a bit different to deal with than pit vipers. The compression strap mentioned by one poster is effective for elapids (which includes most Australian poisonous snakes, which is why this technique is widely used down under), but not very effective for pit vipers. It is only a delaying tactic. You still need the antivenin.

Corals also do not inject their venom like pit vipers - they have to chew a bit to get it into their prey. So although the venom is pretty potent, their bites on humans usually do not get much venom in - just don't sit there watching them chew your arm!

5:46 p.m. on March 27, 2006 (EST)
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no evidence yet

I've not posted here for almost 6 months, and still no one has come up with any evidence that the medical antivenom is better than anything else. Also someone posted that herbs or electricity don't help, but gave no evidence that either of them don't. Where are the tests that show these things don't work, and that antivenom does. What happens to the snake venon and the victim, when the antivenon is used vs when it is not.

I have used the suction of a wet washcloth to suck out spider venom many times. That's not to say that suction would work well for snakes, but I'd like to hear from someone who has actually tested the Sawyer device, vs medical quacks who have their own agenda to push and have a success rate that is dismal.

6:21 p.m. on March 27, 2006 (EST)
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Re: no evidence yet

So, johnny, do I read you right that you believe that all MDs are quacks and that all the published research in peer-reviewed medical research journals is useless garbage and/or pure fiction? Have you actually gone through the research yourself? Do you have proof that the many articles that demonstrate that the herbs and electricity are ineffective are pure falsehood, as you claim? Have you got proof or have you yourself demonstrated that antivenin has no effect? You were given references to specific articles - have you actually reviewed them and have proof that they are fabrications as you claim?

Knowing a few people, like my sister, who were saved by antivenin, I would say you are way off base. So far you have added nothing but a lot of wild statements making claims that are in direct contradiction to a very large amount of research. At this point it is your responsibility to back up those claims with solid proof in the form of controlled experiments that have been submitted to thorough review by independent scientists

3:17 p.m. on March 28, 2006 (EST)
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I believe...

http://www.venganza.org/

Isn't there a flat earth society too?

You can lead a horse to water...

-Brian in SLC

4:27 p.m. on March 28, 2006 (EST)
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Snakebite story and pictures...

This guy is happy with the outcome...

Yikes. Caution: the pictures are extremely graphic.

http://www.rattlesnakebite.org/index.htm

-Brian in SLC

5:24 p.m. on March 28, 2006 (EST)
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Re: Snakebite story and pictures...

Brian,
Thanks for posting the URL. I had forgotten about it, although it is now at a different site. I have a hunch, though, that johnny will never be convinced until he has a real bite himself and gets bailed out by antivenin. Or not - maybe he will refuse and suffer like the boy in the URL did and not survive. Or be like the majority of people who get bit and not get envenomated or at least not seriously envenomated.

And yes, there was a Flat Earth Society. I still have my certificate of membership around somewhere. The founder closed his website and shut off memberships about 10 years ago, though. Seems too many people were not taking him seriously. I seem to remember a note somewhere that he has since passed on (fallen off the edge?).

5:33 p.m. on March 28, 2006 (EST)
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Re: Snakebite story and pictures...

Just did a google on the Flat Earth Society. There is a Flat Earth website. However, it is not the same as the Flat Earth Society, based in 29 Palms, CA, during the 1950-1980 period. The guy who headed that one was serious. The current one is much like FSM.

Ok, I think maybe Dave should shut off this thread. It has gotten way off topic and too much uninformative and misleading info has been posted. Sorry Ed, but there are some good links that Brian has already posted with accurate information. I think those will answer your original question.

5:40 p.m. on March 28, 2006 (EST)
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Re: Snakebite story and pictures...

Slight correction - the original International Flat Earth Society was started and run by a Charles Johnson from Lancaster, CA (not 29 Palms ... well, they are only a few miles apart over a few hills from each other). Johnson died March 19, 2001. http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/fe-scidi.htm

8:20 a.m. on March 31, 2006 (EST)
(Guest)

Yes..........both statements are correct. It is a matter of: how potent the venom, how effective the tranfer to the victim, how deep the bite, the condition of the victim, effort applied after the bite, whether life saving measures are attempted. Not one answer.

Best of luck

4:28 p.m. on April 26, 2006 (EDT)
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i want to know how much would it hurt for someone to get bitten by a poison snake

5:15 p.m. on April 26, 2006 (EDT)
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NaSha asked:
"i want to know how much would it hurt for someone to get bitten by a poison snake"

That depends on a lot of things, but mostly whether the bite deposited venom and what species of snake.

If there were no envenomation, the bite would just feel like a pair of pin pricks, maybe even less than getting a shot (been there, done that).

All the way up to really major pain involving the entire body, about the most excruciating pain there is (haven't experienced that, thankfully, but I've read a fair amount, some of which is included in the links given earlier in this thread, some from medical types who have treated major snakebites). Also depends on the species, with some (for example elapids) being much worse than others.

I'm sure that doesn't answer your question, but there is no single, simple answer. There are too many varieties of venomous snakes with too wide a range of poison types (all venoms are a mix of several toxins, some of which act on the nervous system, others acting in other ways), and too wide a range of amount of venom injected.

5:25 p.m. on April 26, 2006 (EDT)
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Ya know, NaSha's question goes all the way back to Ed's original post:

"Some say that the venom of the snake is deadly and will kill a human in average health within hours and some say that is not at all true and one can go days without medical treatment and not die."

Ed said, at one point, that no one had really answered his question. The answer, Ed, is "yes". Both extremes are true. As I posted for NaSha, it all depends on the species (you specified generic rattlesnake) and the amount of venom injected. As Brian posted, Mojave rattlers injecting a full load of venom can kill even someone in good health within hours. On the other hand, with other varieties of rattler and with little or no envenomation (which is the case for the majority of rattlesnake bites, according to the published statistics), you don't have to treat at all (a major reason to NOT use the old slash and suck method). In some varieties of rattler, the venom is very weak for humans. The only way to tell for sure is to watch the progress - if you die within hours, you should have gotten treatment, but if you live and have no symptoms, then you don't need treatment.

11:12 a.m. on April 27, 2006 (EDT)
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I have decided that I will tie several rubber eastern diamondback rattle snakes to each ankle when hiking.

I'm thinking that if I come upon a rattle snake, he will look at the crowd coming towards him and will leave cause he doesn't want to wait in line to bite me.

e

2:24 p.m. on June 7, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Snakebite story and pictures...

Brian,
Thanks for the link and the hypocrisy of medical treatment for snakebites. Basically they had the kid wait 48 hours and then almost cut his arm off "to save him".

Bill,
Thanks for your scientific research about the earth being flat. Is that the proof you have that antivenom works. Seriously who do you think you are kidding.

2:36 p.m. on June 7, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Sawyer recommended *against*

> Profit or not, there isn't anything that works besides antivenom.

If it works, then why do the medical quacks cut people's hands arms and legs off. If it worked then they wouldn't have any reason to do that.

If it works, then how does it work. Does it neutralize the venom? Obviously it does not. So what does it do then. I am waiting for some answer besides the earth is not flat.

If there is some mechanism by which it works, though all results show that it doesn't, then why is that unique to $250,000 treatments from a medical quack.

What makes you think the same mechanism wouldn't be available by other means. You are telling people that nothing else works. How do you know this. Have you tried EVERYTHING else? I seriously doubt that you have.

Snake bits are definitely quite serious. People should have access to the information and methods that will help them to combat the bites and recover.

2:53 p.m. on June 7, 2006 (EDT)
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Re: Sawyer recommended *against*

Let's close this thread before we grind our axes down to the handles, shall we?

For everyone's reading enjoyment, here are a couple authoritative overviews the subject:

http://www.fda.gov/FDAC/features/995_snakes.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snakebite_(bite)

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