Are you afraid of snakes? How do you treat snake bites in the wild? Only about 450 of the 3000 snake species are poisonous and potentially dangerous to humans. Each year, approximately 100,000 people are killed by these, the majority of whom are from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. However, their venom has been used in medical discoveries that can save people’s lives. Let PowerPAc plus help you learn more.
What is snake venom?
Snake venom is a highly toxic saliva that contains zootoxins and aids in the immobilization and digestion of prey. This also serves as a defense against potential threats. During a bite, snake venom is injected by special fangs.
Snake venom is produced in the salivary glands at the back of the snake’s head. Salivary glands are the parts of the head that produce saliva. Snakes have hollow fangs that act like hypodermic needles to deliver venom. When a snake bites, the venom glands are squeezed by muscles in the snake’s head. This forces the liquid through the fang muscles in its head, squeezing the venom glands. This forces the liquid through its fangs and into its prey’s flesh.
10 ways treat snake bites
If someone has been bitten by a snake, call 911 immediately. It is critical to respond quickly in this type of emergency. While waiting for emergency assistance:
- Keep the bitten area still and lower than the heart.
- Cover the area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to ease swelling and discomfort.
- Monitor breathing and heart rate.
- Remove all rings, watches, and constrictive clothing, in case of swelling
- Wash the bite with soap and water.
- Do not attempt to suck the venom out.
- Do not use a tourniquet.
- In order to tell the emergency room staff what the snake looks like, its size, and the type of snake if you know it, it is helpful to remember what the snake looks like, its size, and the type of snake if you know it.
- If possible, try to remember to draw a circle around the affected area and mark the time of the bite and the initial reaction. If you are able, redraw the circle around the site of injury marking the progression of time.
- Make a note of the time the bite occurred so that it can be reported to an emergency room healthcare provider if necessary.
9 deadliest venom of snakes in the world
- Black mambas venom
The venom of a black mamba does the following to your body: The venom, once injected, interferes with activity at a junction where nerves and muscles connect, resulting in paralysis, according to Ryan Blumenthal of the University of Pretoria in The Conversation. Because the venom is also cardiotoxic, it has the potential to cause cardiac arrest. According to Blumenthal, this was the case for a South African man who was bitten by a black mamba on his index finger. Within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital, he was already in cardiac arrest. Despite being treated with antivenom, the man died a few days later, according to Blumenthal.
- Fer-de-lance venom
According to a 2001 study published in the journal Toxicon, these pit vipers, which live in Central and South America and are between 3.9 and 8.2 feet (1.2 and 2.5 m) long and weigh up to 13 pounds (6 kg), are responsible for roughly half of all snakebite venom poisonings in Central America. Because the venom of the fer-de-lance snake contains an anticoagulant (a substance that prevents blood clotting), a bite from this snake can result in hemorrhage.
- Boomslang venom
According to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, the boomslang, which can be found throughout Africa but is most common in Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, is one of the most venomous of the so-called rear-fanged snakes. When not in use, these snakes can fold their fangs back into their mouths. According to the Museum, this snake, like other deadly snakes, has hemotoxic venom that causes victims to bleed internally and externally.
- Eastern tiger snake venom
The eastern tiger snake (Notechis scutatus), which is native to southeast Australia’s mountains and grasslands, is named for the yellow and black bands on its body, though not all populations have that pattern, according to the Australian Museum.
Its potent venom can cause human poisoning within 15 minutes of a bite and is responsible for at least one death per year on average, according to the University of Adelaide.
- Russell viper snake venom
In Sri Lanka, where this nocturnal viper prefers to rest in paddy fields, they are responsible for a high rate of mortality among paddy farmers during harvest season. Researchers reported in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology in 2014 that the snake’s venom can cause an awful smorgasbord of symptoms, including acute kidney failure, severe bleeding, and multi-organ damage. Some venom components associated with coagulation can also cause acute strokes and, in rare cases, symptoms similar to Sheehan’s syndrome, in which the pituitary gland ceases to produce certain hormones. According to the handbook, victims typically die from renal failure.
- Saw scaled viper venom
When threatened, this viper begins “sizzling” by rubbing together special serrated scales, as opposed to the stereotypical “hissing” sound associated with snakes, according to a journal statement. When bitten by this viper, a person will experience localized swelling and pain, as well as the possibility of hemorrhage. Because the venom interferes with a person’s ability to clot blood, it can cause internal bleeding and, eventually, acute kidney failure, according to the educational society Understanding Animal Research. Hydration and antivenom (there are nine types of antivenom for this snake) should be administered within hours of the bite for a person to survive, according to Understanding Animal Research.
- Inland taipan venom
The inland taipan, which lives in more remote areas than the coastal taipan, rarely comes into contact with humans, according to the Australian Museum. When threatened, the taipan coils its body into a tight S-shape before darting out in a single quick bite or multiple bites. The hyaluronidase enzyme is a key component of this venom that distinguishes it from other species. This entails, according to a 2020 issue of Toxins (Novel Strategies for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Snakebites),
- King cobra venom
According to the Natural History Museum in London, the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the world’s longest venomous snake, measuring up to 18 feet (5.4 m). Its claim to fame is not so much the strength of its venom as it is the quantity injected into victims: According to the Fresno Zoo, each bite delivers about 7 milliliters (about 0.24 fluid ounces) of venom, and the snake typically attacks with three or four bites in quick succession. According to Sean Carroll, a molecular biologist at the University of Maryland, a single bite can kill a human in 15 minutes and an adult elephant in just a few hours.
- Coastal taipan venom
Because of its incredible speed, the coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) could bite you multiple times before you notice it, according to the Australian Museum. When threatened, this snake, which lives in the wet forests of temperate and tropical coastal regions, will lift its entire body off the ground and jump fangs-first, injecting venom into its prey. According to Australian Geographic, before 1956, when an effective antivenom was developed, this snake’s bite was nearly always fatal.
How does snake venom work?
- Nervous system
Toxins can work in a variety of ways once they are injected, depending on the type of snake. Some toxins are toxic to the nervous system. These are known as neurotoxins. Neurotoxins obstruct the transmission of signals between neurons in the brain. This results in paralysis.
- Circulatory system
Other toxins have a negative impact on the circulatory system. These are known as hemotoxins. Haemotoxins can cause red blood cells to burst, blood to clot, or blood pressure to drop dramatically.
- Muscular system
Other toxins are harmful to the muscular system. These are known as mycotoxins. Mycotoxins cause muscle tissue death and inhibit muscle contraction. Necrosis is another term for tissue death.
How does snake venom save lives?
Is snake venom ever helpful?
Toxins found in snake venom can be harmful to humans, but they can also be used as medicine. Some snake venom, for example, affects blood pressure and blood clotting. Scientists can use this snake’s venom to develop new medications to treat diseases. Proteins derived from snake venom have been used to treat a variety of ailments. Cancer, pain, hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease are just a few examples.
Developing new drugs
It takes a long time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money to develop new drugs from snake venom. First, the various components of snake venom are separated. This enables researchers to test and identify those with potential medical applications. Some ingredients, for example, may be able to alleviate pain. Scientists then attempt to create a synthetic (rather than natural) version of the compound. The compound is then tested on animals in small doses. Finally, scientists develop a human-safe version of the drug. They test it to ensure its safety. They put it on the market once they are certain.
Snake venom is a highly effective tool not only for snakes to subdue their prey, but also for doctors to treat illnesses and snake bites. The development of new antivenoms should reduce the number of people who die as a result of snake bites. Furthermore, the discovery of next-generation drugs to treat heart attacks, strokes, and even cancer may rely on hidden secrets found in snake venom.