x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

How to safely treat a snake bite

How to in the UAE: Misconceptions about treating snake bites include sucking out the poison, cutting the area above the wound and tying a tourniquet.

The aggressive saw-scaled viper, one of five dangerous species of snakes in Dubai, has sparked warnings from the municipality.
The aggressive saw-scaled viper, one of five dangerous species of snakes in Dubai, has sparked warnings from the municipality.

If you are bitten by a snake, set aside popular myths such as sucking the poison from the wound.

Instead, clean the area around the bite with water and head to hospital for an anti-venom shot.

"The wound area should be cleaned, the limb should be immobilised," said Dr Gulam Yasin Naroo, a specialist of emergency medicine at Rashid Hospital. "Try to reach a government hospital in 30-45 minutes for the anti-venom."

Misconceptions about treating snake bites include cutting the area above the wound and tying a tourniquet.

"It's not a layman's job to cut, and the area should not be sucked because it will damage tissue," said Dr Naroo. "The limb should not be elevated. Do not apply antiseptic lotion or antibiotic creams.

"A tourniquet is not advisable since you will block blood supply. When released, the poison could suddenly spread."

There have been no recent reports of snake bites in heavily populated areas, Dr Naroo said.

"We do get cases from the farms, the desert, but I have not seen cases from crowded city areas," he added.

To prevent snakes from settling near your home, the area should be kept clear.

"Saw-scaled vipers like to hide under trash and at the base of hedges obscured by leaf litter," said Dr Reza Khan, the Dubai Municipality's wildlife specialist. "The viper does not like lawn grass. Owners should also make sure there are no holes in the boundary walls."

rtalwar@thenational.ae