Snakebites are rarely fatal but the venom which is released in the bite can cause considerable pain to the victim and may result in illness. It is, therefore, essential that a snakebite receives medical examination as soon as possible. The adder is the only poisonous snake that is indigenous to Britain - a snake kept in a zoo or as part of a private collection is likely to be of foreign origin and it must always be assumed that such a snake is poisonous.
Treatment for a snakebite
1. Identify the snake if possible and pass this information on to medical staff at the nearest casualty department immediately - this will enable tehm to identify and prepare the appropriate anti-venom.
2. Before the casualty is transported to hospital, particularly if the journey will take some time, it is important to reduce the amount of venom in the bite wound and inhibit the spread of the venom in the body. Wash the wound with soap and water if possible and cover it with a dressing or a clean cloth. Place a roller bandage just above the site of the wound and fix it firmly but not too tightly in place to make a ligature.
3. Immobilize the affected limb with a splint if possible and ensure the casualty is lying down.
4. Reassure the casualty and observe for signs of shock. Administer mild analgesics such as paracetamol and aspirin if necessary.
5. Arrange for the casualty's immediate removal to hospital