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What to do if you are bitten by a snake
Date:12/1/2010

Rosemont, Ill. Should you be the victim of a snakebite, the best thing you can do is get to a hospital as quickly as possible, according to a new review article from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS). Current medical treatments, including new medications and surgery, if necessary, are far more effective for snakebites than anything you can do on your own.

"Previous generations of antivenin medications were notorious for causing negative systemic reactions," says Adam W. Anz, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC. "But the antivenins we have available today can not only help avoid long-term damage from the snake venom, but they can also prevent the need for more invasive medical treatment."

Snakebite symptoms can range from pain, swelling, and bruising to an irregular heartbeat, paralysis, and muscle twitching.

Surgery is very rarely, yet sometimes necessary to treat damage incurred from a snakebite, in cases where severe swelling compromises blood flow. This is not the only reason that orthopaedic surgeons are often consulted on these types of injuries.

"Orthopaedic surgeons are experts in regard to treating the extremities, and the hands and feet are the parts of the body most often bitten by snakes," says Dr. Anz. "This is why it is important for orthopaedic surgeons and the public to know about the effects of venom and the best ways to treat snakebites."

Tips for avoiding snakebites:

  • Understand the types of environments where people are likely to encounter snakes. For example, wooded areas with deep piles of leaves or stacks of wood are frequently home to snakes.
  • If you encounter a snake, get away from it. Do not attempt to pick it up or threaten its safety in any way. More than half of all bites occur when people interact inappropriately with snakes.

If you are bitten:

  • Identify the ty
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Contact: Lisa Meyer
lmeyer@aaos.org
847-384-4033
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Source:Eurekalert

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