Snake Anti Venom

Submitted: Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:27
ThreadID: 68043 Views:13310 Replies:14 FollowUps:11
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Hello everyone. Hope you all had a safe and happy Easter and for those still on the road stay safe and have fun.

My question is this, i am planning a trip across the GBH wiluna to warakurna, through to Uluru then skip to the Oodnadatta track on to Camerons Corner and home. I have lived on sheep stations as a young fella in western NSW and have a healthy respect for snakes etc, i.e. leave them alone however, if the unthinkable should happen, does anyone know if it is possible to purchase anti-venom for the most likely of snakes i am to come accross on this trek and if so, who it can be purchased through.

i understand it has to be refrigerated and i will be taking a Waeco 50Lt fridge with me which should do the trick.

Cheers, Tony.
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Reply By: Rockape - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:36

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:36
Tony,
I believe you have to match the antivenene to the snake that bit you, also it has to be administered very carefully under controlled conditions.
AnswerID: 360549

Reply By: Member - Dennis P (Scotland) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:39

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:39
Hi Tony,
This gear is not available to the general public, only to Hospitals/Doctors.


Cheers,

AnswerID: 360550

Reply By: Member - Troll 81 (QLD) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:40

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:40
There was a thread on here a while ago about this and someone posted a link from a place where you could buy it from. Can't find it now though. Hopefully someone will find it for you
AnswerID: 360551

Follow Up By: Member - Troll 81 (QLD) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:47

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 16:47
I found the link

Anti Venom
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 17:20

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 17:20
Troll, your link actually takes you to freeze dried venom! - but antisera is listed there too - assuming you have the right one (need to match to the offending snake) and that you know the right dilution/quantity and how to to administer etc etc. Not cheap either!

Have seldom seen a snake in the desert areas. Surely the most practical advice is beware and leave well alone if you do happen to come across one. And carry a supply of compression bandages and either a satphone or HF.

Cheers,

Val.
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Reply By: Member - Crazy Dog (QLD) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 17:28

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 17:28
The anti V you are probably looking for is known in the medical world as POLYVALENT SNAKE ANTIVENOM and usually covers most known Australian snake bites... Just remember it may take many many units to overcome a serious bite where some bites may require a differing amount. DOCTORS are trained in its use and should ONLY be given by them and preferably in an emergency setting - eg Hospital, Ambulance , RFDS etc.... The best anti venene treatment is to be snake wary - don't touch them stay away from their living areas etc and learn basic first aid to allow treatment while emergency assistance is on its way...make sure you let someone know your inteneded destination an approx ETA etc.. Carry HF radio if going into out of the way areas and check in at regular times...

see link CSL link


Grrr!!!
AnswerID: 360558

Reply By: a convict - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 17:30

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 17:30
Having been bitten by one of the deadly ones, and survived, can I repeat from above...

--------------------------
Rockape replied:
Tony,
I believe you have to match the antivenene to the snake that bit you, also it has to be administered very carefully under controlled conditions.

-------------------------
..the biggest bang for your buck is to buy some elastic bandages, long enough to do your upper thigh. That's what probably saved me. I was helping a surveyor in rough country, had one in my pocket, and got it on immediately.

..another thing, snakes tend to sunburn easily, so give shaded areas a watchful eye.

..and another thing if for any reason you are walking behind a 4x4 in rough country give driver plenty of space ahead, ..he wont see the snake he runs over, and you'll be the first thing the snake sees. They get very, very angry, trust me.





AnswerID: 360559

Reply By: CJ - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 18:09

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 18:09
I travelled the CSR with a doctor friend, and we had the same conversation.

The items to consider is that if the antiV is not matched to the snake you can do even more harm, AND
The Anti V is quite expensive, AND
has a limited shelf life

His (professional) advise was to administer proper 1st aid as described above, call RFD, and that should keep you alive
AnswerID: 360563

Follow Up By: Member - Richard H (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 09:40

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 09:40
During my army days we were doing 'contact drills' and one of my mates hurtled over a log and dropped right on top of a king brown snake having a nice kip.

Before he could regain his feet this snake hit him about 6 times, arms, neck and shoulders.

We carried him out to where a 4 x 4 ambulance could get to, and the RMO jammed antiV into him. It turned out that he was allergic to the antiV and actually died several times.

An aerial evacuation to a large regional hospital saw him recover, however, he was sick boy for many months, and they eventually gave him a discharge.

This happened in F.N. Qld.

We were told afterwards that he would have most likely survived the snake bite without antiV being administered, as on occasions snakes have used up their supply of venom, or as has been suggested, they can turn the supply on and off.

So this stuff is not all it's cracked up to be at times, even under medical supervision.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 15:57

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 15:57
if it was a king brown it is unlikely it envenomated him as they dont envenomate by striking in quick succession but rather hang on and"chew" the venom in
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 19:16

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 19:16
Hi Tony

You'll be very lucky if you see a venomous snake. We see many more snakes at home than we do when outback travelling.

I think food would be pretty scarce in desert areas, and although reptiles can cope well in these conditions, we have plenty more on farms where grain attracts rodents, and rodents attract snakes. In the Kimberley, locals told us the only time to see snakes is in the wet, when frogs abound and they hunt this food source.

As aforesaid - brush up on the latest first aid treatment - take a number of crepe bandages and something to secure them with. I carry three in my backpack when taking walks. From first aid training, with compression bandage correctly applied, you have 24 hours before the venom reached major organs. Also as aforesaid, seek medical advice rather than administer self treatment.

They are generally shy creatures who will try and get out of your way, unless they feel threatened and cornered. In the NT at Park Ranger talks, they recommend standing quite still. That way any threat to the snake has gone, and it will just go about its business.

This year we had more than usual dugite (our most common local venomous snake) sightings. They literally ran over our feet or between them when disturbed in the shed, on their hurried way to their safe haven. It happened several times. Most unusual, as dugites are particularly shy and are not often seen. We collect plenty of shed snake skins around the house, sheds and paddocks to prove their presence. Some of them adorn my office walls.

I would be extremely surprised if it is legal to self administer, or even purchase anti venom in Australia unless you are a registered veterinarian or a hospital drug department.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Kim and Damn Dog - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 20:10

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 20:10
Gidday Tony

I was bitten by a Tiger snake in one of the irrigations channels around Mooroopna as a kid when we were pear picking . Can’t remember all that much about it now.

A few years later I got scraped by a red belly black after inadvertently jumping on it.

My understanding, after asking a while ago, is that you can’t order anti venom because it needs to be particular to the snake.

I’d be more worried by a Bull Camel on heat if I was you. A few years back we were travelling down the road through Arrabury and stopped for a break.

A couple of us wandered off into the bush for a walk, and came across this slobbering camel in full melt down. I think I ran the equivalent of a mile in under three seconds! LOL

Regards

Kim
AnswerID: 360591

Reply By: cyoung2203 - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 20:54

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 20:54
I could be totally wrong here but a few things I learned about snakes:

Aussie snakes, as opposed to overseas snakes, dont have hollow fangs.
They inject via a ridge down the back of the fang
The poison sack drips the venom down the back of the fang
the fangs puncture the skin and the venom is ingested through the puncture wound

The good things is that Aussie snakes dont always inject venom. I am told that they "decide" whether to inject or just bite you as a "please go away promptly" gesture

That means that if the bite mark does not have a venom splatter mark around it then there is a good chance that you have not been injected with venom.

Dont wipe the bite site. If you were injected, the doctors can easily take a swab of the area to efficiently determine the type of critter that bit you. Otherwise it is blood tests and time delays in identification and treatment.

The other thing I have heard is that most venomous snakes in Australia cant see past 6 or so feet. That means that as long as you stay still, you can observe them. I practice with my kids before i go bush so when I say "Freeze" they do just that.

Worked a treat in SA a couple of years ago when a King Brown was on a path and my son was only 2 feet from stepping on it. Said "freeze". he stopped. Snake took off...and we have it all on video!

That same trip in SA, near Robe, we did a trip along the coast on a sandy track. I went over a hump and caught a glimpse of brown. There was a solid "tap" "tap" on the chrome bull bar. I reversed back a few feet and there was a 7 foot brown in the strike position. He stayed like that for a good few minutes. I grabbed the camera and grabbed some shots of him (from within the car) as he dropped down and headed into the scrub, where he turned and came back towards the vehicle.

Guess even snakes dont like Ford Explorers'. LOL

I have come accross Red Bellies heaps of times...I dont worry about them. Have stepped over them whilst trout fishing. They are a placid snake and not that venomous. Brown's on the other hand....no friend of mine!

On Fraser Island in 93, I came accross a Death Adder on one of the tracks. I thought it was a Blue Tongue at first until I pulled up next to it, opened the door and took some photos. It was within a few feet and couldnt care less. There was a troopy full of backpackers watching. I pulled up next to them and explained that it was a very venomous snake and they shouldnt get too close. I watched in the rear vision mirror as about 8 people crowded around the snake with their camera's. One bloke was lying down in front of the snake getting a macro shot! I am serious!

AnswerID: 360603

Follow Up By: Member - Stuart P (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 00:46

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 00:46
our biteys do have hollow fangs. including our taipan and fierce snake
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Follow Up By: cyoung2203 - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 08:35

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 08:35
Thanks for the feedback! So with those snakes that do have hollow fangs, is it guaranteed that they will give you venom with a succesful bite?

Cheers

Craig
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Reply By: get outmore - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 21:25

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 21:25
firstly most people go travelling when snakes are inactive ie winter
second of all a healthy respect for snakes should see you right - the vast majority of bites are to darwin award contenders

plenty of info on how to avoid snakebites such as sturdy shoes, long pants, gloves while collecting firewood.
browns which are responsabler for most bites have very small fangs so it only takes a pair of jeans or socks to prevent envenomation. someone said about grooves in the fangs - this isnt correct its the length of the fang that makes clothing an effective barrier.

i assume you are familure with snakebite 1st aid? if not do so as a proper compression imobalistaion bandages work extremely well as the venom is carried in the Lymphatic system rather than bloodstream
AnswerID: 360609

Reply By: tonbon - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 05:17

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 05:17
Wow, an absolute gold mine of information provided by everyone, thank you very much. The general consensus of course being anti venom should only be given by a trained practitioner (which I am not) as it can do more harm than good, be snake wary (alert not alarmed) and be up on first aid (I am trained in advanced first aid from my defence force days) although I need to brush up on specific snake bite first aid as there aren't to many snakes in the Indian Ocean.

As a side note, as mentioned in my original post, I spent time on sheep stations out near Hay, western NSW. 2 years to be exact. I was being home schooled by my mother whilst my father was building a house for the station owner. We used to do my classes down by the lake, spending hours at a time sitting quietly doing school work, .22 cal rifle by my side.

After a while all the wildlife would get used to us and simply carry on its normal daily business around us, the snakes included. These included but not contained to King Browns and Tiger Snakes. They never bothered us as we never bothered them and it wasn't unusual for them to pass within 2 or 3 feet of us, sometimes even stopping to check us out or simply have a bit of a sun bake.

later in life I have tried telling people in the city here about some of these adventures, my partner included but they never seem to quite believe it or simply dismiss it as it isn't in their realms of comprehension. I think there will be quite a few people on this site that can relate to some of the experiences I had.

Again, thank you everyone for your great responses and good info. Happy Travelling. Tony.
AnswerID: 360644

Follow Up By: trainslux - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 09:57

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 09:57
The venom works on your lymphatic system, so imobilise the limb, ie wrapping from above bite to up the limb, and then back down, and stay calm, and rest.
This way, even if you get venom, it will be released at a slow rate that you can most likely handle dont undo the wrap till your at the hospital.
One chap had been fine for 8 hrs till he got to the doctors, they unwrapped the bandage, and he crashed there as the venom moved around his system.

Aborigines used to bury the snake bite victim in the ground up to their neck to keep cool, immobile, and kept them hydrated for a day.

Trains
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 14:15

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 14:15
so many people think snakes are killing machines. ive lost count at how many BS stories ive heard of people getting chased by them.

many people describe seeing snakes as you mention as some kind of near death experience they were lucky to survive
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Reply By: Steve63 - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 11:31

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 11:31
The anti venom can be dangerous in itself. Many people have alergic reactions to it, often quite sever. If you have asthma it can also be risky. Unless you can deal with the fall out from an anaphylactic reaction you should not be administering it. So as well as the anti venom in the worst case you may need adrenaline, IV steroids, some way to provide respiratory support and potentially a way to cardiovert ie defib. This stuff takes a fair bit of knowledge to use safely and is expensive to buy (an automated defib was ~$3,000 last time I looked). You would need to be to be a paramedic or doctor to safely use most of this stuff.

The other point is that Australian snakes often dry bite ie no venom. So the strike is like a warning shot.

Steve
AnswerID: 360681

Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 14:12

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 14:12
as i understand antivenine isnt necc given to snakebite victims - they are monitered and only given AV if there symtoms start becoming severe-even practioners dont take its use lightly
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Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 18:37

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 18:37
I think that is a very good reason why everyone should carry a gun with them when they travel in the remote snake infested parts of this wide brown land - not to shoot the snake but to shoot the snake bite victim when the pain becomes unbearable ;-)
A similar concept applied when I was in the Navy. In tropical climes the captain used to park the ship at 1600 and it was "all hands to swimming stations". Typically this would be in the middle of the Pacific with several kilometres of water beneath us. There would be several personnel stationed on the bridge, armed with rifles - not to shoot the sharks but to shoot badly injured victims.
Bob
AnswerID: 360719

Follow Up By: tonbon - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 19:54

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 19:54
Lol. You are quite right Bob, i too was in the Navy from 86 to 96 with numerous trips up the tropics complete with tropical ocean swimming on occasion and yes, the gunnery sailor posted on the bridge wing wasn't there to shoot the sharks. Funny how i never really thought about it at the time.

Tony.
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Reply By: cocky - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 09:22

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 09:22
Hi Tony,
I would highly recommend an excellent reference guide by the late Professor Struan Sutherland, "Dangerous Australian Animals" ISBN 1-86447-076-3. To quote '...with medical management kept to the essential information required to treat human and animal victims, and only limited use of technical terms, it is ideal for students and as a stand-by on family holidays. It is a most informative and entertaining reference with descriptions, pictures, distribution maps, and notes on first-aid in case of bites and stings'. On page 190 is a First-Aid Doctors' guide to anitvenom usage and contact numbers for further expert information. It recommends that antivenom should only be administered by physicians and in a situation where resuscitation facilities are on hand and tested. (The exception is the very rare remote area rescue operation.)
Professor Sutherland was instrumental in developing a lot of the antivenoms that are used in Australia today and gives details of how he discovered the Pressure Immobilisation Technique when researching antivenom during his career. This is discussed in his very entertaining autobiography "A Venomous Life" ISBN 1-864470-26-7 which he wrote when he discovered that he was terminally ill. Unfortunately this brilliant man passed away only a few years ago but has left a wonderful legacy for all Australians.
I would strongly suggest as in previous replies that good first aid management would be a much safer way to go in the case of snake bite and therefore it would be worth investing your time in attending a first-aid course. It is not a simple case of carrying antivenom in a fridge but having the expertise to administer it safely so as not to kill anybody inadvertently, but good first-aid will buy you all the time that you need to seek professional emergency assistance.
I hope that this helps and trust that you have a safe trip.
Cheers!
Denise
AnswerID: 360834

Follow Up By: tonbon - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 09:49

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 09:49
Hi Denise, fantastic advice, thank you. Ordering today. Having "lived" with snakes and other bities as a child i am aware of the dangers and techniques to avoid the unthinkable and treat them with the respect they deserve.

My partner however, city born and bred, is very worried about the dangers out there. every night i take her through these replies and forums gathering as much info as possible to try and elay the fears she has so any and all info from all the fantastic people on this site is greatly appreciated.

thanks to you guys, she is gaining a little more confidence every day. Cheers guys.

Tony.
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