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Poisonous Snakebite First Aid Treatment

  • In the case it is not identified or unable to identify if the snakebite is poisonous, it shall be rescued as poisonous snakebite.
  • Recognize the shape, color and other possible features of the snake.
  • Over 96% of the snakebites are located in the arms and legs (arms a bit more than legs), most people in Taiwan suffer swelling in the arm or leg of snakebite, so please remove their wearing accessories, such as ring or bracelet.
  • Calm the victim of snakebite, or comfort her/him and keep their arm or leg of snakebite immobile.
  • Bandage the arm or leg of bite with elastic bandage, the more bandage range, the better it is. If no elastic bandage is available, silk stocking or pantyhose can be used as substitute, with wood block or tree branch as splint to fix the arm or leg of bite.
  • Send the victim of snakebite to hospital for diagnosis or antivenin treatment.



If the victim feels better in the arm or leg of bite after correct bandage, keep the bandage for several hours and keep it in that way before reaching the hospital, determine as soon as possible when to remove the bandage after arriving at the hospital and do not kept it too long. Generally, the elastic bandage can be removed when antivenin treatment is ready or the doctor needs to check the bite.


What to do when far from hospital

  • For people working in remote mounts out of the way, the victim of snakebite may have to go through several days before reaching the nearest hospital, thus the radio communication equipment with aerial rescue system can be the most direct way of rescue.
  • The above-mentioned elastic bandaging may provide several hours to delay the outbreak of toxicity.
  • If one has no good rescue system (e.g. radio etc.) while has to work in remote area where poisonous snakes may often appear, it is strongly recommended that he or she shall bear antivenins against those snakes in the area. When bited by a snake, follow the above steps and inject all the antivenin in a bottle and remove the bandage in an hour, and thereafter leave the mount for hospital as soon as possible.


First aid for snakebite in other parts

  • For bite in body, try elastic bandage as possible without suppressing the breathing of the victim in the breast.
  • For bite on the head and neck: try bandage to suppress the head instead of the neck which shall be send to doctor as soon as possible.


How to prevent snakebite

  • Never try to catch a snake or play with it.
  • Wear boots and thick trousers in the area where poisonous snakes may appear, never bare your feet or wear slippers.
  • Never stretch your hand into hollow wood or dense bush, or turn a stone before inspecting carefully.
  • Be careful of snake that may stay on the other side of a stone or wood when striding across it.
  • Select open and dry area for camping and keep away from bush, light campfire or torch around the camp especially in summer night.
  • Never walk across or swim in river in mountain area where poisonous snakes may appear as most snakes are good swimmers and there may be snake in the water.


Antivenin in Taiwan

Treatment of snakebite in hospital is usually done by giving antivenin against the species of the poisonous snake, there are two antivenins prepared by preventive medical research institute and are available in general hospitals and clinics.

  • Monovalent antivenin against hundred pace snake.
  • Multivalent antivenin for bleeding (Pointed-scaled pit viper and Bamboo Pit Viper. Author) and for nerve (cobra and umbrella snake).
  • Another multivalent (6-valent) serum, which consists of antivenin against chain snake and other five common poisonous snakes, has not been put on market yet, anyone who needs it may contact Division of Bio Preparation Mfg., Preventive Medical Research Institute. Tel: (02)785-0513, or 785-7559