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#120919 - 01/21/08 01:12 AM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: philip]
Taurus Offline

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 423
Loc: Ontario
For those who took the time to reply to this thanks a lot, the info has been a great help. It seems that there is still a lot of debate on the subject though. I will keep searching to see what I can did up……….

#120930 - 01/21/08 03:11 AM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Taurus]
PeterR Offline

Registered: 05/31/01
Posts: 47
Loc: Wollongong [ 34.25S 150.52E ] ...
Warning: You can get seriously hooked on the whole subject of snakes if you aren't careful...

Here in Australia we just live among 'em, and for the most part we leave each other alone. But we humans give 'em the respect they deserve; some of the most poisonous critters in the world. Here's a site which provides commonsense advice on the whole awesome collection of Aussie snakes.

The first aid principles would apply elsewhere.


Take a look at the 'Fierce Snake', which I am told has the most venomous bite, drop for drop of any creature that crawls on God's earth. That's because it inhabits a tiny part of the Australian desert and eats just once a year when a native mouse scuttles past. The venom has to work, or the snake dies.

Far more common is the brown snake which lives where humans live, and if it had longer fangs, would easily account for the most deaths and serious injuries.
"Serve in Love; live by Faith"

#120933 - 01/21/08 03:59 AM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: PeterR]
jshannon Offline

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 575
Loc: North Texas
In the US, pressure immobolization is recommended for certain coral snake bites. It is not recommended for pit viper bites since it could increase local necrosis or compartment pressure. Because treatment measures may differ from snake to snake, identification is important.


1. Myth- Mechanical suction, electric shock, and immersion in ice water are effective first aid (“field”) therapies for snakebite. In truth, these are not only not helpful, they may be quite harmful. Antivenom therapy is the only therapy that has been proven effective, with the possible exception of pressure immobilization for certain elapid (e.g., coral) snake bites.

Edited by jshannon (01/21/08 09:08 PM)

#121093 - 01/22/08 07:30 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Roarmeister]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Re: Wilderness Snakebite Protocol, #6: Splint body part as if fractured, in neutral position.

Could anyone enlighten me a bit on this? I know pit viper venom tends to cause gross swelling, so would a fracture-type splint be of value here, or would it tend to cause more problems? On the snakebites I've seen, splinting or binding would have been contra-indicated (I would think) as the swelling would start squeezing against the splint supports. A sling type of support (for an arm or hand) I could understand, but I would question a rigid splint.

I suppose constant monitoring could prevent more damage, but how much would a non-professional know about that in an emergency situation? There is a wide difference between what an on-site doctor would do and what an average person would do.


#121587 - 01/27/08 08:25 AM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Taurus]
Macgyver Offline

Registered: 05/24/06
Posts: 81
Loc: Victoria Australia
Hey Taurus, there is no agreement between medical personel as to what works with snake bite, and there never will be so long as the people who spout off their "expert" opinion have no experience with the things that they condemn.

There are several things that work to certain degrees and as chris says there are things that work in a real bad way, possibly causing much damage. Poultices work period, to draw out venom, for infections and they work for poisoning and stings. Before the days of doctors being representatives of the drug companies their use was widespread and they do work. For snake bite they would work slowly though and you would need to have a large poultice to have it draw out sufficient poison. I can't explain the mechanism as to how it works or how deep it works, but from my personal experience and those of our ancestors it is at the very least a backup treatment, it also can't hurt.

The most effective first-aid method, which I know from personal experience works, is a High Voltage Direct Current Electric shock (20kv), like from a small petrol engine spark system.

Just as doctors say not to suck out the venom, they also often say that people should not use electric shock. They say that sufficient testing has not been done to prove it's effectiveness. The doctors who write that have never used it to treat any bite or sting on a person. Over 1000 people have been treated in Ecuador in a government endorsed program in a hospital there and they have had no deaths since the program started. Before they were losing 5% of the victims. The morbidity (loss of tissue etc) went from 20% to 1%. This program took place from the mid eighties and continues to this day.

There are quite a few doctors around the world that use this form of first aid and also missionaries who have used it because they found that it worked.

Further reading on the subject can be found at
First Aid Venom Shock Wiki Site
That is a site that I help administer, although poorly at this time, it needs to be cleaned up and reorganised a bit, but what can I guy do when he is getting ready for a wedding? There is quite a bit of information on it though and it is well worth a browse. I know the guy personally who initiated the study in Ecuador, Dr. Ron Guderian. and I also know from personal experience that it works for bites and stings.

I have also designed a mechanical device for the third world that can be wound up and will deliver a shock to the site of the bite. This is not something that I am getting money from, I do it because I have found personally that it works and there was no other device out there that would work in the third world without batteries.

Menonite friends of mine have used cattle prods (8kv approx) for copperhead and rattle snake bites as well as brown recluse spider bites, with great success. These were not dry bites either. People have also found it effective for preventing anaphalactic shock due to stings as well.

There is a topic on this forum about the subject that goes into it in more detail.
Snake Bite, Insect Bite and Stings

This is a device that is made by some people in Italy that is a low powered stun gun that they claim works, although I have had no experience with it.
Technimed - Ecosave

There is also a low powered stun gun (25KV) that is made by a guy out west (Oaklahoma)I can put you in touch with him if you want. It is important to not to use a stungun or HVDC source that is too high in voltage. If the voltage is too high (in excess of 100KV) you can possibly get some tissue damage from the shock. This is not a problem if an appropriate voltage source is used.

I wish you all the best in your research,


#121782 - 01/28/08 09:11 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Macgyver]
aardwolfe Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/22/01
Posts: 923
Loc: St. John's, Newfoundland
I'd be very skeptical about this. The "explanation" proffered is that human tissue carries a negative electrical charge, snake venom carries a positive charge, and the two attract; application of electrical shock reverses the charge on the human tissue and repels the snake venom. I don't believe I've ever heard that human tissue carries an electrical charge, or snake venom either. Even if the theory were true, applying electrical shock to the area around the bite would then, logically, push the venom deeper into the body, causing more harm than good.

According to a BBC article online:

Electric shock therapy has also been found to be ineffective at neutralising the effect of venom, despite its widespread use in Africa and South America.

I thought this one was a "Darwin award" urban myth, but apparently it really happened:

Dart and Gustafson described in detail the case of a 28-year-old man who was bitten near his right upper lip by his pet Great Basin rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis lutosus). The patient had been previously bitten 14 times. During treatment for 1 of these 14 bites, the patient had experienced an anaphylactic reaction to antivenom. On the basis of information they had read in an outdoorsman's magazine, the patient and his neighbor developed a plan to use HVDC shock treatment in case the patient was bitten again. The patient and his neighbor were provided with the opportunity to test their plan after the patient's 15th rattlesnake bite. The snakebitten patient was placed on the ground close to the car. The HVDC shock was delivered by attaching a lead wire from one of the car's spark plug wires to the patient's lip. The neighbor then started the car and revved the engine to 3000 revolutions per minute repeatedly for approximately 5 minutes. The patient reportedly lost consciousness during the first HVDC shock treatment. The ambulance crew, who arrived about 15 minutes later, found that the patient was unconscious and had fecal incontinence. On the basis of the ambulance crew's initial evaluation of the patient's unstable vital signs, he was transported to a hospital by helicopter. The patient arrived at the hospital approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes after the bite. In the emergency department, the patient was found to be obtunded, hypotensive (blood pressure 62/palpable mm Hg), tachycardic (pulse rate 120 beats/min) and hypothermic (35.4°C). The patient experienced severe face and neck swelling that necessitated nasotracheal intubation. After fluid resuscitation therapy, the patient regained consciousness and vital signs stabilized. Laboratory testing revealed moderate coagulopathy (protime 20 seconds) and thrombocytopenia (<40000 mm3) that resulted in the administration of 10 units of platelets. The patient exhibited a positive skin test reaction to Crotalidae polyvalent antivenom and received hydrocortisone 200 mg, diphenhydramine 100 mg, and cefazolin 1 gm intravenously as antivenom pretreatment. During the following 8 hours, the patient received 27 vials of antivenom. The patient was discharged after a bout of serum sickness with residual facial edema and loss of facial tissue, which ultimately required surgery. (36. Dart RC, Gustafson RA. Failure of electric shock treatment for rattlesnake envenomation. Ann Emer Med. 1991;20:659–661. Cited by Wilderness Medical Society:
(http://www.wemjournal.org/pdfserv/i1080-6032-012-02-0111.pdf )

The authors of the article, following a review of the available medical literature, concluded "that the use of stun guns or other
sources of high voltage, low amperage direct current electric shocks to treat venomous bites and stings is not supported by the literature."

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."

#121799 - 01/28/08 10:30 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: aardwolfe]
Macgyver Offline

Registered: 05/24/06
Posts: 81
Loc: Victoria Australia
Hey Aardwolfe, You have misunderstood the theory about the action of the electrical charge on the venom. The tissue is not affected at all, it is the venom that is changed in it's molecular structure and the ionic charge that is modified by the shock. A recent study in Italy found that electric shock inactivated the Phospholipase A2 and Metalloproteinase molecules which are aparently the cause of pain and damage in snake venom.

Now on to the darwin award winner. I am somewhat familiar with the case of the guy that you mention. That guy was a nut, he used excessively high voltage, pulsed at too high a frequency (3000 rpm on the car... I shake my head in disbelief) and he hard wired himself to the vehicle for 5 minutes. So he didn't treat himself as the program in Ecuador treated people, so it is very difficult to compare the two. There is no way to determine what damage was done by the extreme misuse of the electricity, there was tissue damage and systemic shock from the electricity and he was rendered unconscious by using inappropriate shock. We can't determine if the venom was deactivated by the misadministered shock or not. The administration of the anitvenom was routine when there was a mild lack of clotting of the blood. There should have been severe lack of clotting of the blood if the venom had been largely untouched by the shock. He had major complications to the antivenom which is rather a common occurrence.

All In all, there is not any way that anyone can draw significant conclusions about the effectiveness of properly administered HVDC shock on snake venom from this case. It is quoted popularly because it is sensational and that is all.

So we have one guy here where we aren't sure what happened or didn't, and we have 1000+ people in Ecuador alone who are alive because of the Appropriate and Effective use of HVDC first aid. It is a bit one sided. Not to mention the people who I know who have used it for snake venom, bee stings and spider bite.... with great success. I have correspondance with people who are very allergic to stings and after using appropriate devices the pain and swelling went down and no allergic shock occurred. Also the missionaries who use this type of thing don't like to shock people, they use it because it works against the venom which they have no other way of treating. It is only in the west where we have doctors who administer antivenom worth 25,000 USD per bite incident where it is claimed it doesn't work and where most won't try it. Those who do try it find that it works, and use it, it's as simple as that. Doctors Stan Abrams, Carl Osbourne, Ron Guderian to name three in the US have tried it and found it effective against snake bite and other bites and stings too.

The BBC article really doesn't say anything significant, it is just parroting off what most doctors say who haven't tried it. These are the same doctors who can't agree about use of extractors or pressure bandages etc.

Most of the literature that the "researchers" quote on this very obscure subject is either misleading or downright false. There is a need to have effective and credible research done on this subject, and at this point it hasn't been done because it is verrrry expensive and most research in US medicine is paid for by very large pharmecutical companies. Individual doctors cannot afford to foot the bill, and it can't be done credibly in a garage.

There are lots of airheaded medical people on the web who parrot off what other inexperienced people have written on the subject saying that it either doesn't work or there isn't enough evidence and so just don't do it. I agree that there should be much more research done in an appropriate manner with an open mind. But I disagree that there is not enough evidence to show that it is effective, I know differently.


#121808 - 01/28/08 10:56 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: ]
Macgyver Offline

Registered: 05/24/06
Posts: 81
Loc: Victoria Australia
You are right, for a proof of concept and that it actually does something, that is all that you would have to do. That is exactly what they did in the Italian study last november. They took some tissue, injected venom into it and then shocked it with probes in the tissue 1cm down. This study found that the state of the venom was in fact modified by the electricity and that the modified venom molecules were not able to do damage.


#121810 - 01/28/08 11:17 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: ]
Macgyver Offline

Registered: 05/24/06
Posts: 81
Loc: Victoria Australia
I can't wait until some good solid scientific research can be done. We will have to see what happens. The high powered stun guns out there are between 400KV and 900KV which can cause electrical burns. So I would only use one of those if I couldn't find a small engine handy.

Experience has shown that the sooner you shock it the better it works and the less damage there is from the action of the venom; within 30 minutes is ideal, 15 is better. Sometimes several shocks are needed to fully nutralize the venom, 6 to 8 shocks across the bite site. The protocol is covered on the wiki site.

#121811 - 01/28/08 11:23 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Macgyver]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Macgyver
I have also designed a mechanical device for the third world...

Macgyver, that's a nifty HVDC device there. Looks promising. I hope it's doing some good.

For what it's worth, I read some scientific articles that Macgyver sent to me a while back. As I commented in that other thread, while I can't say that "right" kind of research has been done yet to convince a skeptical medical community, there seems to be more than enough cases with favorable outcomes to say that there's at least something very promising to this treatment.

It's probably going to take a while before a "respectable" researcher can actually do a human snakebite experiment using HVDC. I don't think that there's enough favorable laboratory and animal experiments done yet to make people feel comfortable doing something in humans yet. Well, maybe it could be done in the Third World where antivenin or even medical care may not be available so the ethical situation is different than trying it here, but then the medical community here is always skeptical of research that isn't done in First World countries.

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