New research has revealed surprising details about snakebites.
The study from The Royal Flying Doctor Service found snakebites are more likely to occur at home, and not out in the bush like some would think.
"The publication of this study is very timely as the warm, dry winter and sudden rise in temperatures has brought snakes out early this year," said Tracey King, Senior Flight Nurse at the RFDS South Eastern Section.
“As venomous snakes are found in every state and territory we urge everyone, not just those in the warmer Outback locations, to be vigilant.”
The Australian snakebite project involved data collected over a ten year period, from 2005-2015.
It turns out most snake bites occur near the home while walking, gardening or trying to catch a snake. Additionally, three-quarters of people bitten are male and over 30.
As for the snakes, researchers found the brown snake is the most likely to attack (41 per cent), followed by the tiger snake (17 per cent) and the red-bellied black snake (16 per cent).
Another problem with snakebites is people often aren’t aware they have been bitten.
“Surprisingly, they’re often painless and may go unnoticed as tissue damage is mostly light – lacerations, scratches or light bruising along with some bleeding or swelling. As over 90 per cent of snakebites, we found to occur on the upper and lower limbs, these are the places to check first.”
“Common symptoms include an unexplained collapse, vomiting and abdominal pain, bleeding or paralysis.”
Snakebite dos and don'ts
Do try to note the colour, size, distinctive markings and patterns of the snake without putting yourself at risk. A positive identification will help medics get the correct anti-venom into the patient more quickly.
Do stop the spread of venom - bandage firmly, splint and immobilise. All the major medical associations recommend slowing the spread of venom by placing a folded pad over the bite area and then applying a firm bandage. It should not stop blood flow to the limb or congest the veins. Only remove the bandage in a medical facility, as the release of pressure will cause a rapid flow of venom through the bloodstream.
Do seek medical help immediately as the venom can cause severe damage to health or even death within a few hours.
Do NOT wash the area of the bite or try to suck out the venom. It is extremely important to retain traces of venom for use with venom identification kits.
Do NOT incise or cut the bite, or apply a high tourniquet. Cutting or incising the bite won't help. High tourniquets are ineffective and can be fatal if released.
Do NOT allow the victim to walk or move their limbs. Use a splint or sling to minimise all limb movement. Put the patient on a stretcher or bring transportation to the patient.