IN the olden days, people either sucked out the venom from the bitten area or applied juice from the leaves of the white shrimp plant (justicia betonica Muzukizi) on the wound.
Vision Reporter
Journalist @ New vision
IN the olden days, people either sucked out the venom from the bitten area or applied juice from the leaves of the white shrimp plant (justicia betonica Muzukizi) on the wound.
IN the olden days, people either sucked out the venom from the bitten area or applied juice from the leaves of the white shrimp plant (justicia betonica Muzukizi) on the wound.

Today, general first aid for all bites is recommended.

- Carefully look at the bite wound to identify whether the snake was poisonous or not. Fang marks mean danger.

Tie a ligature (strip of cloth) above the wound, tight enough to slow down the flow of the blood towards the heart, but loose enough to allow the flow of blood to go to the lower parts. Tying too tightly can cut off blood flow and lead to gangrene.

- Wash the wound with distilled water or any other available liquid, including urine or milk. If you have dilute potassium per magnate, use it.
- Make vertical slits around the wound to allow blood to flow out. If it is on the leg, massage it downwards; there are high chances that part of the poison could be released. It is better to let the blood drop on a banana leaf so that you see the poison as it gets out.

- Place a black stone on a snakebite wound and it will stick to suck out the venom. Black stones are made locally by roasting a cow bone.
- Give a spoon of honey every morning from the next day to clean the system and revitalise the patient.

- The patient should not walk or do anything vigorous. The patient should also not be given food for some time because blood is drawn from other parts of the body to digest the food.

- Dr Juuko Ndawula says dhaniya (coriander in English, giligilani in Swahili), mixed with raw eggs and a little lemon taken orally, quickly detoxifies the system.
- The rest of the treatment is symptomatic.

Give a tetanus injection, antibiotics in case of wounds and incubate in case of paralysis. Lastly, give the patient anti-venom; especially when you suspect systematic poisoning

To avoid gangrene and necrosis
- Do not place an ice block or cube on the bite area. It can block circulation.

- Do not apply electric shock as this leads to severe and massive swelling. Pain may become very severe and neglected tissue damage may lead to gangrene.
lShould there be signs of dead tissue, remove them to avoid gangrene.

- Physiotherapy may be needed to maintain joint mobility.

- Bites from vipers may show local swelling and tissue damage which can easily lead to gangrene. So hurry the patient to hospital as soon as you can, for cytotoxic bite treatment.

- If the patient develops bleeding syndrome (when no blood is showing clinically), give clotting test. If the blood fails to clot in the test tube, get the patient to a referral hospital.

- Treat for microbial infection. Bacteria which cause tetanus and gas gangrene have been isolated from the mouths of poisonous snakes. Cleanse the wound and if possible disinfect with an antiseptic.

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