Whenever a patient is discharged from hospital, education on the prevention of future snake bite is essential. Furthermore, relatives of the patient should be educated and the message should be sent to the society. People should be sympathetic to poisonous snakes whilst avoiding a snake bite. Snakes should be protected and conserved as they play a major role in maintaining the ecological balance of the environment. Very often snakes bite due to provocation, otherwise they try to avoid humans. Knowledge about the habitat and behaviour of poisonous snakes would help to avoid confrontation with the snakes. Children are particularly at risk of snake bite and carry a high mortality rate. Hence, adults should take precautions to protect their children. The following measures would be useful in the prevention of a snake bite.
1. Wearing shoes, boots, thick trousers or long sarongs are advisable when walking or working in areas where snakes are likely to be found. They dwell in places such as jungle paths, grassy lands, paddy fields, water canals and home gardens. When walking at night even on a main road one should wear shoes and take a bright light (torch light, flashlight or lamp)
2. Carrying a stick when walking at risk areas. Snakes are deaf but very sensitive to vibrations on the ground. Hence, heavy footsteps on the ground and hitting the ground with stick would chase away the snakes.
3. Avoid putting hand or foot into termite holes, crevices in trees, under logs and bushes blindly.
4. All outlets of drains and pipes through which snakes can enter a house should be covered with a mesh. Ant-hills near houses should be destroyed and home garden should be kept clean. House should be free of rats and toads which attract snakes.
5. House should have well fitting doors and windows which should be kept closed at night to prevent snakes entering houses. Snakes can climb up walls of wattle and daub houses and could enter the roof through adjacent branches of trees. Households should avoid sleeping on the floor and sleeping on a bed covered with a mosquito net would prevent krait bite. Kraits come into the houses at night in search of prey and bite people sleeping on the floor.
6. Incompetent people shouldn’t handle snakes either dead or alive.
7. Keep young children away from areas known to be snake-infested.
8. To prevent sea snake bite, fisherman should not handle snakes caught in fishing nets. There is a risk of sea snake bite at estuaries, river mouth and some coastlines.
Aims of first aid
Immobilize the patient to retard systemic absorption of venom
Reassure and control early symptoms of envenoming
Attend to the site of bite
ABC (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) and preserve life and prevent hypoxaemia
Take immediately to nearest hospital