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Snakes smuggled into hospital

April 23, 2024 6:04 am in by

There’s a concerning trend at the local emergency department with people bringing in snakes.

Patients who are bitten are then capturing the reptiles and taking them to hospital in hopes it’ll help with their treatment.

Several snake encounters have been reported at Bundaberg’s Emergency Department this year, including an Eastern Brown (pictured).

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Bundaberg Hospital Director of Emergency Medicine Dr Adam Michael says by bringing the venomous reptile to the ED you are not just creating a risky situation for yourself, you are endangering others.

“Over recent months, we have seen several individuals arriving with live snakes following snakebite incidents, posing serious safety risks to themselves, healthcare providers, and other patients,” he says.

“Such actions not only endanger lives but also hinder timely treatment.”

Dr Michael says bringing a snake with you when presenting to hospital is not necessary for your care.

“We are not wildlife professionals and therefore are not trained to identify a snake even if you bring it to us,” he says.

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“We can determine if you need antivenom, and if so, which antivenom, by using clinical signs, blood tests, and snake venom detection kits, which we have at the hospital.”

“Attempts to catch or kill snakes put you and others at much higher risk of bites and envenomation. Bringing snakes to ED puts not only you but also our staff and other patients at risk.”

Dr Michael is urging the community to use caution to avoid being bitten by snakes and to practice vital first aid in the event of a snake bite.

“Most snake bites occur because someone has gone out of their way to interact with that animal,” he says.

“People with a suspected or known snake bite should keep calm and call for help. If possible, avoid using or moving the bitten limb.

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“Call 000 and ask for an ambulance.

“Do not clean the bite site, apply a firm pressure immobilisation bandage to the entire limb. They should then present to their nearest hospital as soon as they can after being bitten.

“People particularly in those in rural or remote areas should learn snake bite first aid.”

Almost 100 patients aged as young as one-year-old have been treated for snake bites at Wide Bay Hospital Health Service this year.

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