Snakebite Treatment

Call 911 if: 

  • There is any chance that the snake is venomous
  • The person has difficulty breathing
  • There is loss of consciousness

If you know the snake is not venomous, treat as a puncture wound.

1. Note the Snake's Appearance

  • Be ready to describe the snake to emergency staff.

2. Protect the Person

While waiting for medical help:

  • Move the person beyond striking distance of the snake.
  • Have the person lie down with wound below the heart.
  • Keep the person calm and at rest, remaining as still as possible to keep venom from spreading.
  • Cover the wound with loose, sterile bandage.
  • Remove any jewelry from the area that was bitten.
  • Remove shoes if the leg or foot was bitten.

Do not:

  • Cut a bite wound
  • Attempt to suck out venom
  • Apply tourniquet, ice, or water
  • Give the person alcohol or caffeinated drinks or any other medications

3. Follow Up

If you treat the bite at home:

At the hospital, treatment will depend on the type of snake.

  • If the snake was venomous, the person will be given anti-venom treatment.
  • A tetanus shot may be given, depending on date of last injection.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 23, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: "How to Avoid or Respond to a Snakebite."

FamilyDoctor.org: "Avoiding snakebites."

University of Maryland: "Snakebites."

Merck Manuals: "Snakebite."

Merck Manuals: "Wounds."

California Poison Control System: "Rattlesnake Encounters on the Rise, State Poison Officials Warn."

Snakebite Information from eMedicineHealth.

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