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Denim jeans help save Deniliquin snake bite victim

Amanda Wilson was bitten by a brown snake, but her jeans helped limit the venom injected.

November 14, 2012 1:05pm

Amanda Wilson is on the mend after being bitten by a brown snake.


A regular evening stroll with her pet dogs turned into a medical emergency for Deniliquin’s Amanda Wilson last week.

Miss Wilson was on her property, 30km from Deniliquin, when she was bitten by a brown snake on Wednesday.

At first she didn’t realise she had been bitten. It was about 20 minutes later, when some of the symptoms took hold, when Miss Wilson eventually found the puncture wounds on her leg.

‘‘I was walking the dogs like I normally do, and I didn’t realise straight away.

‘‘I have been seeing snakes around and on this day I saw one go right and thought ‘that was close’.

‘‘Usually the dogs see them first and then we can avoid them.

‘‘I felt something on my leg, but I thought I had just scraped one of the bushes.’’

Miss Wilson said she went inside and about 15 minutes later started having trouble breathing which, at first, she thought was asthma.

‘‘But then I started to get a headache, so I took some Neurofen, and then I started getting really hot,’’ she said.

‘‘I was rolling up the legs of my jeans when I noticed the bite.

‘‘It was on the side of my calf. I bandaged it up using a ruler as a splint, and off I went.’’

Given the bite had occurred almost half an hour earlier, Miss Wilson drove herself to Echuca Hospital for treatment.

As her symptoms were ‘‘pretty mild’’ she did not require any anti-venom, but she was put on a drip and kept under observation for about five hours.

‘‘I’m exceptionally lucky,’’ she said.

‘‘If it had been a bigger snake, hit me a lot harder or if I hadn’t been wearing denim, things could have been much worse.’’

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Deniliquin Ambulance paramedic and local first aid instructor Bob Crampton said contrary to popular belief, snake bites are quite uncommon in the local area.

‘‘We’d normally get less than one a year, but then not all people call the ambulance,’’ he said.

Mr Crampton said while brown snakes are potentially deadly, there is no reason for people to panic if they are bitten.

‘‘The way Australian snakes are, you usually have oodles of time to get to the hospital before anything turns too nasty.

‘‘And another good thing is the way their fangs form, so if you are wearing jeans much of the poison is absorbed by the material.

‘‘That’s why it’s always a good idea to wear long pants and socks if you plan on going for a walk.

‘‘If you do get bitten, if you have a bandage, you should start by wrapping directly over the bite, working your way down the limb and then back up as far as you can go (to stop the movement of venom through the body).

‘‘And you should call the ambulance of course.’’

Mr Crampton said hospitals are able to test the venom on your skin to determine the appropriate anti-venom, so said it is best not to wash the area around the bite before seeking treatment.

Symptoms of a brown snake bite are most commonly nausea and vomiting.

Mr Crampton said bite victims may also become progressively sweaty and experience a rapid but weak pulse.

Other symptoms are breathing difficulties, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing and speaking, abdominal pain, headaches and, in extreme cases, the victim may collapse and go into a coma.

If you need urgent medical attention, please phone Triple Zero (000).

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