RAUK - Archived Forum - Treatment of adder bite link

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Treatment of adder bite link:

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arvensis
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Posted: 24 May 2006
Someone posted this link in another forum, apologies if this has already been posted.  It is an interesting read.

http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/331/7527/1244

The 'add hyperlink' button doesn't work for me so you'll have to copy n' paste it.

Mark


arvensis38861.7956481481
Hampshire Amphibian and Reptile Group.
Vicar
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Posted: 25 May 2006

Very interesting thread, useful too.

Another case history which has a nice written style is: http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/the1.htm


Steve Langham - Chairman    
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group (SARG).
GemmaJF
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Posted: 25 May 2006

http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/331/7527/1244

 


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Suzi
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Posted: 25 May 2006
When I read this sort of stuff I get an urge to take up stamp collecting or train-spotting!
Suz
arvensis
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Posted: 25 May 2006
Cheers Gemma for posting the hyperlink.  Suzi, if you look through it, it mentions half the bites are on the hand when picking the snake up. 

 I suspect some of these bites in recent cases are from people who think they are a Steve Irwin and get tagged for their efforts.

 The case history that Steve(Vicar) has linked has made me wonder what the reason was behind picking that adder up?

Mark
arvensis38862.4741898148
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GemmaJF
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Posted: 25 May 2006

I read Steve's case history a while ago for the first time. The guy had no reason to hold the snake behind the head in a position where it could bite his finger, it goes against common sense. This is NOT a safe way to go about handling adders, as he found out to his cost. The whole episode was utterly avoidable.

Adder can be handled relatively safely when your comfortable with them, as Tony P has said before on here, if you need to examine the animal closely, tube it. That way the snake isn't stressed and the handler isn't either.

Certainly made me think reading the BMJ article though Mark, particularly about a few near misses in my time... now where did I put that timetable

GemmaJF38862.6250694444
Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
arvensis
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Posted: 25 May 2006
Gemma,
          Not only do you need a timetable, you also need a parka, a notebook, a thermosflask etc.

Ahem! anyway to keep it on topic, it did strike me as grabbing it behind the head as a bit odd- I thought the best way was to 'tail' them.   I'll point out that I haven't a handled a Adder so far, but I know what I'd do if someone grabbed me behind the head.

  I'd imagine that quite a few of the yearly total of bites are avoidable.

Mark

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Suzi
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Posted: 25 May 2006

I had read the story before about the adder bite. In my neck of the woods too. No I never understood why he picked it up either.

Anytime from this weekend onwards I will be seeing families wandering the heaths in sandals and flipflops. A lot of the tracks would probably be OK but they have grassy verges and people often step off onto this especially kids and if with dogs.

I even wear a thick gauntlet when lifting tins!


Suz
GemmaJF
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Posted: 25 May 2006

'I even wear a thick gauntlet when lifting tins! ' - so do I Suz

adder often sit in the undergrowth unseen adjacent to tins, if you know they are about it is again a common sense thing to have a gauntlet on your tin lifting hand. An alternative is a long stick with a hook for lifting the tins, Midwest do a good one, but for capture work when you need to be low to the ground, a gauntlet should be thought of as a must have if adder are likely to be encountered, it isn't the one under the tin that you can see that will tag you, it's the one you didn't see in the adjacent undergrowth when your hand went down to lift the tin


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
arvensis
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Posted: 26 May 2006
Since we're talking about protective gear, any suggestions on suitable gloves/gauntlets?

Cheers, Mark

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GemmaJF
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Posted: 26 May 2006
I've always found welding gloves or thick gardening gloves good enough, there is a thread about this somewhere, if your using actual 'tins' as opposed to roofing felt, the gloves are also handy to stop nasty tin cuts. You do have to remember though that any glove is the last resort protection, you should do everything to avoid the bite in the first place, not least to avoid injury to the adder.
Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
arvensis
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Posted: 26 May 2006
Cheers Gemma,
          Th is was my intention- to use them when lifting tins, not for actual handling.  Totally agree with trying to avoid bites in the first place.   Does anyone use ankle protection here too (apart from boots?)

I'm going to do more searching for bite case studies, would Berus bite histories from other countries be ok?

Mark
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GemmaJF
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Posted: 26 May 2006

Hi Mark, me again,

I wear gaitors in the field, always. This is partly because I don't like over the ankle walking boots, and primarily because I like to be able to walk through brambles whilst looking for snakes without being torn to bits. I've never trodden on an adder, but I have come close! It is reassuring that the gaitors would prevent an ankle bite as well as protect from the brambles. (Also they are good at keeping seeds out of your socks )

I think more info on berus bites would be really interesting Mark, I know there is reference to a recent European human fatality on here somewhere.

One more tip, take care in bracken, often it is piled up high at some undisturbed sites. I once felt something warm against my hand whilst walking through bracken on Hindhead commons.. female berus, didn't seem that it bothered her much, having my hand brush over her, but just one more thing to be aware of.


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
arvensis
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Posted: 26 May 2006
I was thinking about gaiters, the problem is finding leather ones for a decent price.  I did have a look at some in the local camping shop, but they are not suitable to purpose(not leather).

Links- a short summary of bite cases during one year in sweden: <url>http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query .fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=16496490& dopt=Abstract</url>
On similar lines is this:
http://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/ebm/related/1649649 0/A_nationwide_study_of_Vipera_berus_bites_during_one_year_e pidemiology_and_morbidity_of_231_cases

I'll have another dig around soon.

Mark


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detekcncltd
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Posted: 09 Aug 2006

Hi there was bitten by adder 5 weeks ago unfortunately it did venomate resulting in 3 stays in hospital with suspected blood clots etc, the moto being ware suitable foot ware not sandles and socks like me!

ATB

DAVE: REPLY TO detekcncltd@yahoo.co.uk


Vicar
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Posted: 09 Aug 2006
Dave,

I would be very interested in a little more of your story, such as, how and where (in the country) the bite occured, and symptoms you personally experienced, and how you are now...5 weeks afterwards.

Other people on the forum would, I'm sure, be interested also.

I hope you have fully recovered !

Steve Langham - Chairman    
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group (SARG).
armata
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Posted: 09 Aug 2006
Funny, when I give talks or write a piece I always advocate wearing stout footwear; but in real life I walk around in flops and shorts (you can spot the ticks better, and its cooler.)

Its a matter of watching where you put your feet. If you are working with snakes in the field then a bite on the hand or arm is much more likely. Gloves are useful for lifting tin( saves the old back), and also moving vegetation to look under (ask Wolfgang about looking for Bitis schneideri!!). But gloves for handling snakes, not really, you need to 'feel' the snake. With cobras here, and boomslang, you can hook and tail them, and holding them by the vent you can turn the wrist to 'steer' then left or right, and they never turn on you. Tongs are used in extreme cases where you have a very excitable snake; and some species, such as forest cobras demand tongs (they know the hook and tail trick it seems ).
'I get my kicks on Route 62'
mynewt
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Posted: 18 Aug 2006
Here's a stupid question, but I've been wondering ...

Is there any evidence that anyone has been bitten often enough by adders, in the line of duty / pleasure to build up any degree of immunity to the venom ?   How long would such an immunity last ? I remember seeing a programme on TV where the guy had been bitten by venomous snakes so often that he was sensitised to the venom, but presumably this doesn't usually happen.   Also, would immunity to adder venom protect you from other European viper species' bites ?

Any of you pro's become adder-immune ?

Mynewt

Wolfgang Wuster
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Posted: 19 Aug 2006
In order to keep useful immunity to adder venom or anythingsimilar, you would need to receive regular injections of venom - I guess every few weeks or so. Hopefully, most of us don't get bitten that often.

The way it works is that once you have been exposed to an antigen (something that causes your body to produce antibodies, e.g., a venom, a bacterium, virus, etc.), your immune system "remembers" that antigen, and can make antibodies against it. However, after some time without exposure to the antigen, the levels of antibody actually in the blood drop to very low levels.

Basically, the immune system evolved primarily to fight off infections, which start with a small number of bacteria/viruses which then multiply. As the bacteria/viruses multiply over a number of days, the body has time to mount an immune response that will kill the "bugs" off. However, when you are dealing with venoms, the whole lot is injected and starts acting immediately. By the time the body has produced antibodies after several days, the envenoming has run its course, and it's too late for the body's antibodies to do much good.

So, the only way you could be properly immune is by very regular venom injections which keep the level of antibodies at a constantly high level, ready to mop up any venom as it is injected. Not a recommended procedure.

Cheers,

WW
Wolfgang Wüster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
mynewt
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Posted: 19 Aug 2006
Thanks Wolfgang - a pretty clear answer !

Cheers

- Treatment of adder bite link

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