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Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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Hemostatic Dressing to Manage a Bleeding Leech Bite

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In the Spring 2012 issue of the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine appears a terrific case report by Preston Fedor entitled “Novel Use of a Hemostatic Dressing in the Management of a Bleeding Leech Bite: A Case Report and Review of the Literature” (WEM 23, 44-48, 2012). He’s documented a terrific way to stop the persistent bleeding that sometimes occurs after a leech attaches, bites, and releases from a person.

In this case, the victim was a 30-year-old male visiting Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal. He sustained a bite to his lateral foot, which would not stop bleeding with direct pressure and elevation. QuikClot gauze, which is impregnated with oxides of sodium, silicon, aluminum, and magnesium, mixed with a small amount of quartz and kaolin) was folded into a 1-inch square, and applied first with manual pressure, then held in place with tape. After about 15 minutes, when the dressing was removed, the bleeding had ceased and a stable blood clot was noted. The bite did not re-bleed and did not become infected.

I have been carrying QuikClot gauze in my sports medicine first aid kit for quite some time, because it is very useful for nosebleeds, which are a very common sports injury. I also carry it in my outdoor first aid kit, but have never had an opportunity to use it except for a one small cut that oozed persistently in an elderly person.

The article is very useful because it extensively discusses leech bites, leech attachment and removal, and the use of different techniques for managing persistent bleeding. 

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Tags: Bites & Stings

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.

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