Exotic snakebites in the UK have “skyrocketed” over the past decade as the exotic animal’s popularity has grown, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Clinical Toxicology.
The UK’s National Poisons Information Service reported 300 exotic snakebite victims over an 11-year period (NPIS).
This includes 72 young people aged 17 or younger, 13 of whom were only 5 years old or younger. There were no serious injuries among the youngsters.
More snakebite cases in UK
(Photo: Timothy Dykes/Unsplash)
(Photo: Timothy Dykes/Unsplash)
According to the latest study, which includes a review of NPIS issues reported between 2009 and 2020 by specialists from leading universities across the UK, there have been 321 bites from exotic snakes from 68 separate species, according to ScienceDaily.
15 of those bitten had severe symptoms. It featured a reptile conservationist who survived an eastern green mamba attack but died after being bitten by a king cobra.
More than 250 species of venomous snakes are considered medically important by the World Health Organization (WHO), the majority of them native to Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.
However, the likelihood of encountering these deadly animals is no longer confined geographically. Snake ownership has grown in popularity in the UK in recent years.
“The likelihood of being bitten by an exotic (non-native) snake (in the UK) is still rare,” says lead author Pardeep Jagpal of the National Poisons Information Service (Birmingham Unit).
When these events occur, rapid access to competent clinical advice and the availability of an appropriate antivenom are critical issues.
The NPIS provides round-the-clock advice to NHS healthcare professionals in the UK on how to manage exotic snakebites.
The authors reviewed all snakebite-related phone calls received by the service between January 2009 and December 2020.
They declined to answer questions about the European adder, the only deadly snake endemic to the UK, or where it can be found.
The vast majority of these exotic snakebites caused no symptoms or mild to severe symptoms.
However, fifteen bites resulted in severe symptoms, and they were all inflicted by fore-toothed Viperidae or Elapidae. Antivenom was administered to a total of seventeen patients.
“Our results show an increase in the number of exotic snakebites reported to the NPIS compared to previous figures,” says co-author Professor David Warrell of the University of Oxford, a world leader in tropical medicine and founding director. from the Center for Tropical Medicine and the Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Program in Thailand.
Read more: Simulation model ‘predicts’ snakebites will save human lives
What to do if you have been bitten by a snake?
Seek immediate medical assistance, as serious or even life-threatening symptoms can appear minutes after the bite, or they can appear hours later, according to UC Davis Health.
Rattlesnake bites can cause severe pain and swelling at the bite site, as well as heavy bleeding, nausea, swelling of the mouth and throat making it difficult to breathe, dizziness, drooling and, in rare circumstances, collapse and shock.
Do not use ice, tourniquets, or bandages, try to suck out the venom, or use any equipment to cut or sever the bite site.
Amputation can result from the constriction of blood vessels around a rattlesnake bite. Remove wristwatches, finger rings, and anything in the way of the wound and wash it with soap and water.
Stay cool, avoid strenuous activity, and keep the injured extremity below your heart level until you can be evacuated to a medical facility.
While the probability of getting bitten by a rattlesnake is low. People can reduce their risk of being bitten and developing serious or even fatal symptoms by taking simple steps outdoors.
Never walk barefoot or in sandals in situations where you cannot see where you are stepping. Hiking boots and long pants provide an extra layer of protection against encounters with rattlesnakes. However, these barriers will not offer complete protection against a bite.
Snakes can sleep almost anywhere they are out of sight. They can hide from predators, escape temperature extremes, and search for prey as a result.
Because paths have fewer hiding places for snakes, they provide you with some security. The snakes are protected by brush. Stay on the trails to avoid disturbing a rattlesnake that may be hiding.
Related article: A snake bites an Indian, he “takes revenge” by biting him several times
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