How to deal with a snake bite in the Philippines

The principles behind dealing with a snake bite are a mix of common sense and logic.

The first important step is to “diagnose” the bite. Is it really a snake bite? or maybe a slight cut from catching on something etc. Of course if you did see a snake bite the person then you can be pretty sure that’s a bite! If your not sure look for telltale bite marks of two fangs. It would also cause moderate to severe pain in the bitten area together with swelling. Also there is a chance of skin discoloration ( a sign of venom ) and twitching skin around the bite.

  Take a look at the victim are they showing signs of nausea and vomiting, dizziness, sweating, slurred speech, has their mental state changed. If the patient is showing signs of these you need to call for emergency help ASAP.

Keep the victim calm and still as much as possible immobilize them and talk to them reassure them everything is under control. Splint the bite area if possible and stop the victim from walking. Try to reduce the venom getting into the blood stream by adding a bandage 2-4 inches above the bite and another below it not too tight though. This will have an effect in slowing down venom and reduce the risk of it entering the bloodstream.

If you managed to see the snake make a note of the colour, size, pattern etc as this will help when the medical team arrives for anti venom and to find out if the snake is in fact poisonous. Clean the wound with soap and water and then start to look to getting the victim to a hospital or to where you can get the ambulance if your in an area with poor road access. While transporting the victim continue to talk to them and monitor them for any changes of symptoms administer CPR if needed.

The most important factors here are to keep calm and to also appear calm to the victim this will also help them to avoid panicking. Assess things continously and keep a constant communication with the victim to let them know you are there and to help you monitor if there are any symptom changes.

DO NOT attempt to cut out the bite or suck the venom this is Hollywood rubbish that could in fact kill you. Do not apply ointment on the patient or give them alcohol use only soap and water to clean the wound.

In reality in most cases venom isn’t actually injected by the snake into the bite and more commonly the snake is nonpoisonous. Still there is a risk of Tetanus and this is why medical treatment is still needed.

IF the snake is poisonous and clinically proven anti-venon isn’t always readily available in the Philippines and may need to be transffered or anti-venom brought to them from a specialist centre. Either way working through the care from the initial bite your giving them a greater chance of survival and buying spare time that could save their life.

There are two specialist centres in Manila on of which is listed below :-

Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
DOH Compound, Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang, Muntinlupa
San Lazaro Hospital
Quiricada St., Sta. Cruz, Mania
(02)7323776

If in a remote area and unable to gain access to a hospital for medical treatment it may be a good time to try local remedies from tribes people or your guide. I cannot offer any advice on these except that there is more than a good chance the localised remedies will work as they no doubt have done for the local population for centuries. But I cannot advise if you should or shouldn’t use them for legal issues. Personally I wouldn’t think twice on the matter and immediately administer the medication/herbs. Simply because the herbal remedies I have had already in the Philippines for fevers and dengue worked better than any medicines that are available on the commercial market.

Please be aware the risk of being bitten is minor mainly using a bit of common sense and even without you are at little risk. Snakes are generally afraid of humans more than we are of them. At the same time if you come across a dead snake don’t handle it, they still carry venom and a bit of messing around you could end up poisoning yourself or someone else as they can still have a reflex action.