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Directions in Case of Snakebite


Venomous snakes are very few in Greece, as are deaths reported by snakebite. Dangerous snakes include mainly vipers, while the bite of colubridae (Cat snake, Montpellier snake) is mainly painful.

Snake venom is a chemical compound of proteins, the most important of which are neurotoxin, cytotoxin and hemotoxin. It also contains a mixture of proteolytic and hydrolytic enzymes and hyaluronidase. They mostly cause local reactions and cellular damage at the walls of vessels as well as symptoms in the nervous system and heart.

The most important symptoms of viper bites are the following:


a. Pain in 100% of incidents, an edema that appears 20 minutes after the bite and can slowly spread and ecchymosis in a considerable percentage.
b. Nausea, vomit and dizziness, quite often.


c. Often tachycardia, mainly due to panic, fever and expansion of regional lymph nodes.

d. Rarely hallucinations, eyelid edema, blurry vision and spasms.


Complications that have been reported include:


a. Infection of the bite or reduced mobility and reduced perception.

b. Skin bleeding, hemorrhagic blister, local necrosis with loss of tissue and rabdomyolysis.

c. Rarely, acute kidney failure, carpal tunnel syndrome and amputation.


For the seriousness of the symptoms, the following factors are crucial:

a. The nature, the detection and the number of bites.

b. The amount of venom, the microbial flora, the species and size of the snake. Usually, the venom of snakes is much more potent as soon as they awake from hibernation, while older snakes carry larger quantities, although they can also control its infusion.

c. The age and size of the victim, his/her sensitivity to venoms and the first aid he/she received.

The first aid recommended is as follows:

a. Do not panic, as this can only make matters worse.

b. Remove objects or garments that can possible constrict the limb as it swells (e.g. rings, watch, bracelets, etc.)

c. Keep the victim immobile, especially the wounded limb, in order to delay the development of the symptoms.

d. Cutting the skin and sucking the poison are forbidden, as they worsen the patient’s condition and symptoms.

e. Lightly bind the part of the limb that is between the bite and the heart, gradually loosening it as the swelling develops.

f. Do not use antiseptics or ice on the wound.

g. Do not administer alcohol or painkillers to the patient and transfer him/her to the hospital immediately, in case of snake bite of any species.

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