The Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday urged people to follow six crucial steps if they are bitten by a snake and to seek immediate treatment.
A surveyor at Pingtung County’s Chaojhou Township (潮州) Land Office, surnamed Wu (吳), died from a snake bite on June 20 in the mountains near Taiwu Township (泰武).
Wu, 46, was unconscious when he was found by fellow surveyors, who rushed him to a hospital, the office said.
Photo courtesy of Lin Kao-pen
As he did not show any visible bite wounds, treatment was delayed, it said, adding that a small wound was later found on his right ear.
Wu was the first surveyor to have died on the job in recent county records, the office said.
Even though winter is approaching, snakes can still be seen out and about, the ministry said.
When bitten by a snake, people should try to remember its unique characteristics to better identify it later, the ministry said.
People should take off their watch, jewelry or any accessories that might cut into their skin when it swells, it said.
Wrap or bandage the wounded area, place the affected part, such as a leg, lower than the heart, it said.
Do not use a cold compress and seek medical attention immediately, it said.
Taiwanese snakes can be divided into three categories — hemotoxic, neurotoxic and cytotoxic — based on their venom.
Pointed-scale vipers, the Taiwan bamboo viper and the Chinese moccasin belong to the hemotoxic category, with a blister forming on the bite area , the ministry said.
Some people might exhibit compartment syndrome, in which local swelling breaks off circulation and causes a particular part of the body to suffer tissue necrosis, it said.
Snakes like the many-banded krait and the cobra fall under the neurotoxin category, as their venom can cause paralysis, it said.
People could suffer from asphyxiation as their diaphragm and other respiratory muscles become paralyzed, it added.
Russell’s viper, a cytotoxic, can produce all of the aforementioned symptoms and results, as well as acute kidney failure, it said.
People should not use their mouth to suck out the venom, nor should they try to cut open the wounded area, it said.
Snake bites are most often found on the limbs, but the Taiwan bamboo viper, which resides in the trees, is known to drop down on its prey from above, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology associate professor Tsai Tien-shun (蔡添順) said on Thursday.
Hospitals are stocked with serum for all types of snake venom and patients should seek immediate treatment, he said.
Information on handling snake bites should be widely disseminated to educate people on how to keep safe when visiting natural sights, Tsai added.
Additional reporting by Chiu Chih-jou
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