Survival Guide: Rattlesnake

More than 20 000 persons worldwide die of snakebites every year. A snakebite is a true medical emergency.



NationalGeographic video: A bite from a rattlesnake can be lethal, but a majority of snakebite victims survive their encounter. Do you know what to do if are on the receiving end of a rattlesnake bite?

Tips from JAMA: What to do after a snakebite?

- Try to remember the shape of the snake's head and body and the snake's color to identify the type of snake and help direct the treatment. A photo, taken from a safe distance, may be helpful.

- Keep calm and move around as little as possible. This may limit the spread of the snake's venom.

- Do not use tourniquets or suction devices. Do not cut the area around the bite. These traditional remedies do not help and they may harm the patient, making the situation much worse.

- Antivenin, specific to the type of snake responsible for the bite, may be given in case of severe envenomation. This helps neutralize the effect of snake venom in life-threatening or limb-threatening snakebites.

- Intensive care and life support may be needed for the most severe cases of snakebite, especially in small children or elderly persons.

- A tetanus immunization may be given if you have not had one recently.

Read how to prevent a snakebite here: Snakebite - JAMA Patient Page, 2012 (PDF).

References

Snakebite - JAMA Patient Page, 2012 (PDF).

Related reading

See the other videos in the series Survival Guide.

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