Mackay Hospital and Health Service has reported a spike in the number of snake bites in the region. Picture: istock
Mackay Hospital and Health Service has reported a spike in the number of snake bites in the region. Picture: istock

Danger warning after dramatic spike in snake bites

AN INCREASE in snake bite presentations across the Mackay Hospital and Health Service region has prompted a warning from emergency doctors.

Since the beginning of September, 28 people have been treated for snake bites at Mackay Base and rural hospitals, compared to 17 for the same period last year.

Mackay Base Hospital Emergency Department physician Dr Neale Thornton is urging people to be vigilant about snake bites now temperatures are on the rise.

“We’re never out of snake season in the Mackay, Isaac or Whitsunday regions but the warmer weather usually means an increase in snake activity,” Dr Thornton said.

“It’s well known that Australia is home to some of the world’s most venomous snakes but you should treat any snake bite as an emergency, regardless of whether you think the snake is venomous or not.

Related:

Golfer’s swing leads to brush with deadly snake

“People who are bitten can often feel very well with little to no symptoms until they get a massive headache when a brain bleed sets in or go into sudden cardiac arrest.”

Dr Thornton said knowing snake bite first aid was critical and could save a life.

“The first and most important thing to do is to call 000 by using a mobile phone or get someone else to go for help,” he said.

Moranbah resident McIver Watene was bitten by a brown snake twice while golfing. He was in Mackay Base Hospital's Intensive Care Unit for two days while doctors worked to stabilise his blood and kidney function.
Moranbah resident McIver Watene was bitten by a brown snake twice while golfing. He was in Mackay Base Hospital's Intensive Care Unit for two days while doctors worked to stabilise his blood and kidney function.

“As long as you’re not in danger of being bitten again, remain where you are.

“Venom travels through your lymphatic system so the more you move the faster it is pumped around your body.

“Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage as soon as possible and a splint, if it’s available.”

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People should be aware older methods of treating snake bites are now known to cause more harm than good.

“What we don’t want people to do is wash, suck, cut or tourniquet the bite. These methods are outdated and can be dangerous,” Dr Thornton said.

Watch this video for instructions on how to apply a compression bandage.

Last week a man who suffered two bites from a brown snake was flown from Moranbah to Mackay Base Hospital’s Emergency Department where he was treated with anti-venom and transferred to the Intensive Care Unit for ongoing management.


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