What if you are bitten by a viper? Cases of attacks of vipers on people began to be recorded in various Russian regions. AiF.ru talks about how to behave when meeting with poisonous snakes.
With the arrival of warm weather, the vipers woke up. Reptiles are not yet very active, but meeting with them may end unpleasantly, since they have accumulated a lot of poison during the winter.
How to distinguish a viper from a non-poisonous one?
The common viper (Viperidae berus) is the most “popular” poisonous snake in central Russia. It is a small snake, no more than a meter in length, the color of its body varies from gray to red-brown and black with a characteristic dark zigzag line along the ridge and a pattern on the head. The head is rounded-triangular, clearly delimited from the neck, on the upper part there are three large (frontal and two parietal) scutes. On the anterior edge of the upper jaw, large movable tubular venomous teeth are visible.
Most often, the viper can be found in swamps, in fields, in mixed forests, on the shores of lakes, streams and rivers. Snakes like to settle in rotten stumps, depressions under the roots of bushes or burrows of small forest animals. In warm weather, vipers, as a rule, crawl out to bask in the sun, they can be seen in open places: on stones, stumps, paths or roads. Reptiles can crawl to the summer cottage if there are too many frogs or rodents on it.
It is not difficult to distinguish a viper from a non-venomous snake – you just need to look the reptile in the eyes. All poisonous species (snake, viper) have a vertical pupil, and in non-venomous ones (snake, copperhead) it is round.
How venomous is the viper?
The amount of venom in a viper is proportional to the size of the reptile. The viper venom is of the hemotoxic type, it destroys red blood cells and releases the hemoglobin contained in them, which is extremely toxic in free form. In addition, the venom of vipers can interfere with blood clotting.
The local effect of the poison is expressed in the appearance of edema, which within 4-5 hours extends to almost the entire bitten limb, severe pain in the joints, and tissue necrosis at the site of the bite. Common symptoms are weakness, dizziness, fainting, sometimes convulsions, vomiting, nausea, shortness of breath, and weakening of the heart. Allergic reactions and swelling of the mucous membranes may also occur.
In most cases, there are no serious health consequences after being bitten by vipers. At risk are children, people suffering from allergies and diseases of the cardiovascular system.
Can you die from viper venom?
A viper bite is considered dangerous, but it is extremely rarely fatal. According to Rospotrebnadzor, in the European part of Russia, mortality occurs in only 0.3% of all cases of snake bites.
You can die from a viper bite only in three cases:
When can a viper bite a person?
The viper will bite a person if he steps on it or tries to pick it up. When meeting a person, the snake, as a rule, tries to hide, but when threatened, it can take an active defense, start hissing and even make several threatening throws.
The snake does not consider a person a potential prey and will not attack first. Having met a reptile on the road, it is enough to stop and let it crawl away. At the same time, you should not try to drive away the viper, shout, wave your arms or stamp your feet, as this can provoke its defensive behavior. If you see a snake, try to move away from it to a safe distance without turning your back to it, as the snake may attack to defend itself.
What if bitten by a viper?
If you are bitten by a snake, rinse the wound with cold running water and disinfect with chlorhexidine.
When bitten by a snake, it is advisable to immobilize the affected limb, since when the poison enters the body, the walls of the blood vessels are destroyed, blood clots and tissue necrosis occur. Therefore, if the snake has bitten on the leg, you need to put a splint; if it has bitten in the hand, hang it on the kerchief.
If possible, you need to contact the first-aid post as soon as possible in order to neutralize the effect of the poison and introduce a special serum. The sooner assistance is provided, the less negative consequences will be.
What not to do if bitten by a snake?
In no case should the poison be sucked off, since there may be small wounds in the mouth into which it can get. In the first seconds after a snake bite, you can only squeeze out part of the poison from the wound in order to reduce the allergic reaction. But it is important to do this immediately after the bite, since then the poison is absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin and it is difficult to extract it from there.
Under no circumstances should a tourniquet be applied, as the bandage can severely disrupt blood circulation, and edema develops in the wound anyway.
In addition, with a viper bite, you cannot:
After a bite, it is also forbidden to consume alcohol, since alcohol dilates blood vessels, accelerates the absorption of poison and increases the load on the body.