If you are bitten by a snake in Thailand or anywhere in Southeast Asia, and you don’t KNOW that it is a non-venomous snake:
1. Find someone to help you get to the hospital immediately – don’t wait for symptoms and don’t drive yourself.
1155 – Tourist Police – English speaking; 191 – Thai police nationwide; 1669 – Ambulance nationwide; 1646 Bangkok ambulance.
If you have some time between when your ride leaves (like waiting for ambulance):
2. Clean wound with water. Be gentle, don’t scrub harshly especially if the wound burns intensely. If you know the snake that bit you was a viper – do not touch the wound site, just rinse with water.
3. This next part (#3a) is if you know what kind of snake it is. Go straight to #3b if you don’t know positively which snake bit you.
3a. If the snake that bit you is a pit viper – any green viper, or the brown Malayan pit viper or Russel’s Viper (Chain Viper), just rinse the area with water. Don’t touch it, just let it bleed out some if you can. If great amounts of blood – apply a light pressure to stop the bleeding, of course. Ideally you don’t want to wrap a viper bite with a compression bandage, it can cause more damage.
3b. If you do NOT KNOW what type of snake it was that bit you, Immediately apply a pressure bandage or wrap a piece of clean dry cloth around the bite site as well as above and below the bite by a few inches. This is essential for krait, coral, and cobra bites. Elastic wraps that you use for ankle sprains work well. Wrap it snugly, but you should still be able to put a finger under the bandage.
4. Stay as still as possible. Tell someone or write down what you can remember about the snake – color? thickness? pattern? Was it in a tree? On ground? Identifying the snake is very important so you get the right antivenin, if one is needed.
5. Antivenin is given after you start to have symptoms, not before. Some bites are “dry bites” and inject no venom.
Caution… anti-venin (also called anti-venom) OFTEN causes severe allergic reaction. This allergic reaction can be deadly in some cases. Get good advice on the necessity of anti-venin before it is administered. The doctors should do a test to see if you’re allergic to it first before full-scale administration of anti-venin. Insist on it.
Here is how the test is administered (from Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, Bangkok: “Since the antivenin is prepared from horse serum, sensitization to heterologous protein may occur in some individuals. To avoid serious allergic reactions, skin test should be performed prior to the administration by injection of 0.02 ml of 1:100 antivenin dilution intradermally. It should be noted that the skin test may not predict the anaphylaxis nor delay serum sickness reactions.”
- Suck the poison out or use any devices to suck out the venom, it can cause more damage to tissue if it is a viper bite.
- Use a tourniquet
- Use ice over the wound
- Drink alcohol, food, or use aspirin – Paracetamol is OK for pain, better if you take nothing before going to the hospital.
- Use herbal remedies
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, Thai Red Cross Society,
Bangkok, Thailand (662) 252-0161-4; [email protected]
Some information was collected from various what we think are legitimate sources of emergency information regarding snake bite.
If you want to dispute these steps – please send email to: [email protected]
Once you identify the snake that bit you – here is some more information by snake name – scientific classification:
Here is the database listing venomous snakes by country: