A man has tragically died after being bitten by a suspected brown snake while trying to protect his dog.
The 24-year-old was rushed to hospital by a family member but, according to the ABC, he died just an hour after being bitten in Tamworth, New South Wales.
“He went to investigate his small dog barking and found the dog to have a small brown snake in his mouth,” Sergeant Josh McKenzie reportedly told the site. “He’s then gone to try and separate the dog from the snake and was bitten on the finger.”
He added: “Some anti-venom and attempts to resuscitate were applied but unfortunately he died in hospital.” A report will now be prepared for the coroner, NSW police told The Guardian.
Read more: The new, must-know advice for all Aussies on how to treat snakebite
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When it comes to bites, the brown snake is the most common source, followed by the tiger snake, and the red-bellied black snake. The brown snake is responsible for more than 60 per cent of snake-bite deaths in Australia, the University of Melbourne says. In fact, according to The Guardian, NSW Ambulance responded to 252 snake bites across the state in 2017 .
The Royal Flying Doctor Service’s (RFDS) advises people to take action as quickly as possible after a bite, even if it’s painless and there’s little actual damage to the skin visible. Symptoms to look out for include an unexplained collapse, vomiting, abdominal pain, bleeding, or paralysis.
The Australian Snakebite Project previously collected data over 10 years from more than 1,500 patients. The findings busted a number of myths on how to treat a snakebite.
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The RFDS says:
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- Don’t wash the area of the bite or try to suck out the venom – it’s extremely important to retain traces of venom for use with venom identification kits.
- Don’t incise or cut the bite, or apply a high tourniquet. Cutting or incising the bite won’t help, and high tourniquets are ineffective and can be fatal if released.
- Do bandage firmly, splint and immobilise to stop the spread of venom. 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 shouldn’t 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.
- Don’t allow the victim to walk or move their limbs. Use a splint or sling to minimise all limb movement, then put the patient on a stretcher or bring transportation to the patient.
- Do seek medical help immediately as the venom can cause severe damage to health or even death within a few hours.
- Tracey King, a senior flight nurse with the RFDS’s south-eastern section, says that the warm, dry winter and sudden hot weather brought snakes out earlier this year. “As venomous snakes are found in every state and territory we urge everyone, not just those in the warmer outback locations, to be vigilant,” she advises.
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Have you been bitten by a snake? Do you know what to do if you are?