Medicine for the Outdoors
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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Indian National Snakebite Conference

My good friend Bob Norris, M.D., who is Chief of Emergency Medicine at Stanford and an internationally-recognized authority on venomous snake bites, recently participated in the Indian National Snakebite Conference. This was the first such conference to be held in India. The leading experts in India, plus some international experts, joined herpetologists, statisticians, and researchers to provide advice about improving current snakebite management and research in India.

Ian Simpson of the World Health Organization (WHO) Snakebite Treatment Group reports that the Conference was a fruitful event, as the participants developed an evidence-based protocol for both first aid and treatment of venomous snake bites, which was heretofore lacking in a country that witnesses a large number of bites with significant morbidity (serious medical effects) and mortality (death). The protocol stresses reassurance, immobilization of the bitten body part without compression or tourniquets, and prompt transport to a location where antivenom can be administered. It was also recommended that adrenalin (epinephrine) be readily available for intramuscular injection in the event of an allergic reaction to antivenom.

For a country with one billion people and the highest snakebite mortality in the world, the conference was a breakthrough. The government of India and the WHO are reviewing the protocol for implementation in India. Literature will be sent to hospitals with treatment protocols, a booklet on first aid techniques, a booklet for doctors on "Snakes of Medical Significance," and posters to aid in snake identification and first aid.

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Tags: Bites & Stings , On the Road

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About the Author

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