• The majority of snakes are not poisonous• The poisonous varieties are pit vipers (rattlesnakes and copperheads) and coral snakes• Bites by these snakes may result in envenomation, an injected poisoning
• Australia has many snakes capable of lethal bites, including taipans, brown snakes, tiger snakes, death adders, black snakes, copperheads, roughscaled snakes, and sea snakes• The early life-threatening effect from an Australian snakebite is neurotoxic muscle paralysis, which may cause death through breathing failure
• Other significant effects include bleeding as a result of coagulation dysfunction, muscle damage due to the release of kidney toxins, and red blood cell breakdown• Therefore, knowledge of snakes indigenous to this area is important for swift and appropriate treatment
• Assess airway, breathing, and circulation if patient is not alert• Severe envenomation may lead to neurotoxicity with respiratory paralysis, shock, coma, and death• Be prepared to resuscitate and provide advanced life support
• Get a description of the snake, the time of the snakebite, and the location of the bite• Bites to the head and trunk may progress more rapidly and be more severe. • Pit vipers have triangular heads, vertical pupils, indentations between the eyes and nostrils, and long fangs.
• Coral snakes are small, brightly colored, with short fangs and teeth behind them, and with a series of bands of yellow, red, yellow, and black (in that order).• Identification of venomous snakes can be made from venom present on clothing or the skin using a venom detection kit.
• Assess for local reactions—burning, pain, swelling, and numbness at the site• Local reactions to coral snakebites may be delayed by several hours and may be very mild• A few hours after the bite, hemorrhagic blisters may occur at the site, and the entire extremity may become edematous
• Watch for signs of systemic reactions, including nausea, sweating, weakness, light- headedness, initial euphoria followed by drowsiness, difficulty in swallowing, paralysis of various muscle groups, signs of shock, seizures, and coma.• Monitor vital signs closely because tachycardia or bradycardia may develop.