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Snakes not welcome at ED for bite treatment

Dr David Micheal and Jonas Murphy snakes ed hospital
Dr David Micheal and Jonas Murphy.

Snakes in the ED might seem like the plot of a film but it has been the reality at Bundaberg Hospital in a concerning trend where individuals bring snakes with them after being bitten.

Almost 100 patients, even as young as a one year old, have been treated for snake bites at Wide Bay Hospital Health Service this year.

WBHHS are urging residents who believe they have been bitten by a snake not to bring it with them to hospital.

Bundaberg Hospital Director of Emergency Medicine Dr Adam Michael said by bringing the venomous reptile to the ED patients were not just creating a risky situation for themselves but they were also endangering others.

“Over recent months, we have seen several individuals arriving with live snakes following snakebite incidents, posing serious safety risks to themselves, healthcare providers, and other patients,” Dr Michael said.

“Such actions not only endanger lives but also hinder timely treatment.”

Dr Michael said bringing a snake with when presenting to hospital after a bite was not necessary when it came to care.

“We are not wildlife professionals and therefore are not trained to identify a snake even if you bring it to us,” he said.

“We can determine if you need antivenom, and if so, which antivenom, by using clinical signs, blood tests, and snake venom detection kits, which we have at the hospital.

“Attempts to catch or kill snakes put you and others at much higher risk of bites and envenomation.

“Bringing snakes to ED puts not only you but also our staff and other patients at risk.”

Dr Michael is urging the community to use caution to avoid being bitten by snakes and to practice vital first aid in the event of a snake bite.

“Most snake bites occur because someone has gone out of their way to interact with that animal,” he said.

“People with a suspected or known snake bite should keep calm and call for help.

“If possible, avoid using or moving the bitten limb. Call 000 [triple zero] and ask for an ambulance.

“Do not clean the bite site, apply a firm pressure immobilisation bandage to the entire limb.

“They should then present to their nearest hospital as soon as they can after being bitten.

“People particularly in those in rural or remote areas should learn snake bite first aid.”


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