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Wilderness: Sea Snake Bite (cont.)

Sea Snake Bite First Aid Treatment

  • The amount of venom injected (if any) cannot be predicted, and therefore, any suspected bite by a sea snake should be considered potentially life-threatening and the person bitten should seek immediate medical attention.
  • Use the pressure immobilization technique for a sea snake bite.
    • Use an elastic bandage (similar to ACE bandage) to wrap the limb starting at the distal end (fingers or toes) and wrap toward the body. It should be tight but the fingers and toes should remain pink so that the circulation is not cut off (this is not supposed to be a tourniquet)
    • The extremity should also be immobilized with a splint or stick of some sort to prevent it from bending at the joints.
    • The elastic bandage should be removed for 90 seconds every 10 minutes and then reapplied for the first 4 to 6 hours. (Hopefully medical care can be received within this time period.)
    • If more than 30 minutes pass after the bite the pressure immobilization technique is not likely to be helpful.
  • Keep the victim calm, warm, and still and as comfortable as possible.
  • There is no benefit to suctioning or cutting the bite area to "suck the venom out."
  • The overall death rate is 3% for victims bitten by sea snakes. In cases where there is "severe" envenomation the rate is 25%.
  • There is anti-venom available and should be started as soon as possible when a health care professional determines it is needed. It has been shown to be most effective if given within 8 hours of the sea snake bite.
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