x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Snake bite victim in danger

A man bitten by a viper in a rare incident in Ras al Khaimah remains seriously ill in hospital.

A saw-scaled viper echis carinatus in a defensive position.
A saw-scaled viper echis carinatus in a defensive position.

A man bitten by a viper in a rare incident in Ras al Khaimah remains seriously ill in hospital, with doctors describing his case as the most complex they have seen. Reg Furlong, a commodore at the Ras al Khaimah Sailing Club, is undergoing dialysis at Obaid Allah Hospital, where medical staff have warned his family that his survival is not guaranteed.

"He is in a lot of pain right now," said his wife, Jo Furlong. "They said this is the most complicated case they've ever had." Mr Furlong, 61, is suffering from circulation problems in addition to kidney complications. He was bitten by the saw-scaled viper at the sailing club after he attempted to remove it from a storeroom. Experts have described the species as the most dangerous snake in the Arab world.

He was referred for specialist treatment to the Obaid Allah Hospital after initially attending two other hospitals. Mrs Furlong said doctors were working extremely hard to ensure that her husband lived. "These public hospitals haven't got as much money but the doctors are extremely dedicated." Dr Osama Bedawi, a nephrologist at Obaid Allah Hospital, said that while snake bites were a "fairly common problem", ones by vipers of this sort were rare.

"We get between 15 to 20 patients per year, mainly in summer months," he said. "Of those, maybe 25 per cent are complicated. The rest come, take the antivenin and improve within 48 or 72 hours. "When people go camping they should ask the local people if there are snakes in the area and they should always be on the lookout." If attacked, Dr Bedawi said, "come to hospital straight away, without any delay, because the earlier the treatment is given the more effective it is".

A Civil Defence spokesman said it was usually notified of about five cases each year, most often from July to September. azacharias@thenational.ae