Questions on Snake

What to do Immediately

According to the American Red Cross, these steps should be taken:

  • Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the level of heart.
  • Get medical help.


  • No ice or any other type of cooling on the bite. Research has shown this to be potentially harmful.
  • No tourniquets. This cuts blood flow completely and may result in loss of the affected limb.
  • No electric shock. This method is under study and has yet to be proven effective. It could harm the victim.
  • No incisions in the wound. Such measures have not been proven useful and may cause further injury.


A patient bitten by a cobra or krait if not dead in 2 hours will probably recover rapidly. A patient bitten by a viper is in danger for a much longer time.


Snake Bite

Management of Snake Bite

Allay anxiety and fright
Deaths have been reported from shock due to fright even when the bites were by non-poisonous snakes. Hence, it is vital to reassure patients.

  • Not all snakes are poisonous.
  • Not all poisonous snakes are fully charged with venom.
  • Even those that are fully charged do not always inject a lethal dose.

Reassurance helps reduce anxiety related high blood pressure, palpitations, tremors, sweating and rapid breathing.
Check if the bite is due to a poisonous or a non-poisonous snake. Because people who are bitten can't always positively identify a snake, they should seek prompt care for any bite, though they may think the snake is nonpoisonous. Even a bite from a so-called "harmless" snake can cause an infection or allergic reaction in some individuals.
In cases where the snake is killed and brought to the clinic, examination of the snake helps differentiate whether it is poisonous or non-poisonous. In the absence of the snake, the bite mark should be examined using a magnifying lens.

  • If possible, try and keep bitten extremity at body level, when the person is lying. Raising it can cause venom to travel into the body. Holding it down, can increase swelling.
  • Go to nearest hospital or medical facility as soon as possible
  • If possible try to identify the snake and if possible kill and take the snake along to the hospital.

Under Medical Supervision

Administration of anti-venom -

Polyvalent anti-snake venom contains antibodies against cobra, common krait and viper.
5 vials are given if signs are mild -primarily local manifestations.
10 vials if signs are moderate -bleeding from gums, ptosis.
15 vials if signs are severe -vascular collapse, progressive paralysis.

1/3 of the dose should be given subcutaneously (near bite but not in fingers or toes).
1/3 intramuscularly.
1/3 intravenously.

The intravenous dose can be repeated every 6 hours till the symptoms disappear. For sea-snake bites, special antivenoms are available.

More on Anti-Snake Venom and Its Administration

Manage toxic signs/symptoms

Anti-venom acts only against circulating toxin, not toxin fixed to tissue. Therefore, specific measures have to be taken.
In case of neuro toxic signs and symptoms, atropine (0.6 mg) subcutaneously should be followed by 5 injections of neostigmine (0.5 mg) intravenously (repeated 2 hourly depending on response) to reverse muscle paralysis.
In case of vasculotoxic signs and symptoms, fibrinogen along with heparin may be given, but with extreme caution and constant monitoring, as heparin can intensify bleeding.

Take supportive measures

These include blood or plasma transfusion to combat shock, mechanical respiration to combat respiratory distress, antibiotics to prevent secondary infection. Neuromuscular paralysis is the most dreadful complication of snake bite. It may occur within 15 minutes  but may be delayed for several hours. 
To tackle hypersensitivity reactions to antivenom, steroids, adrenaline and antihistamines may be given.

Snake venoms, are complex mixtures of enzymatic proteins and different toxins. In terms of their effects, however, they may be broadly categorized as hemotoxic (damaging blood vessels and causing hemorrhage), or neurotoxic (paralyzing nerve centers that control respiration and heart action); they may also contain agents that promote or prevent blood clotting. Among snakes, cobras and coral snakes may be singled out as having a particularly neurotoxic venom.

Serums against various venoms can be produced by injecting animals such as horses with sub lethal doses and extracting the immune serum, or antivenin, that the animal body produces. Venoms themselves have occasional medicinal uses; for example, some are used as painkillers in cases of arthritis or cancer, and some serve as coagulants for people with hemophilia