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Snakes in Cyprus – First Aid for Poisonous Snake Bites

This article is part of this one.

  1. Calm
    When treated correctly, poisonous snake bites have seldom serious, irreversible consequences. Calm the patient, let him sit or lie in the shade. Snake bites create shock and fear which is often more dangerous than the poisoning.
  2. Ligature
    Bitten extremities should be ligatured as fast as possible towards the heart. Use an elastic bandage or piece of cloth, never string because it cuts in. Important: The ligature should not be a complete strangulation but has to be applied so as to still feel the pulse. The ligatured limb can get blue but not white. By the ligature it is avoided that the poison spreads too fast in the bloodstream thus saving time to get to a doctor.
  3. Disinfection
    Disinfect  the bite with alcohol, iodine or Merfen on a clean cloth or gauze thus avoiding an infection of the wound and wiping off remaining poison on the skin.
  4. Immobilisation
    Immobilise the limb (like a bone fracture). The immobilisation avoids better blood circulation because of unnecessary movements.
  5. Transport
    Bring the patient as fast as possible to the nearest hospital or clinic. The patient should avoid any stress. Loosen the ligature every 15 minutes for 2 minutes until reaching the doctor. Do not leave the ligature for more than an hour and a half.
  6. Information
    In every hospital or clinic in Cyprus there is antidote available. Nobody has to panic, the medical assistance is sufficient.
  7. Precautions
  • Do not walk barefoot.
  • Tread firmly.
  • Particular caution at nightbreak.
  • Do not turn twigs or stones around without being sure that there is no snake hiding.
  • Do not sit or lie anywhere before having checked the place.
  • Do not hit snakes! Most of the snakes bite only in self-defence. Be cautious when touching “dead” snakes.