There are three main types of poisonous snakes in Malaysia: the cobra, the
viper and the sea snake. If you are bitten, each produces different symptoms
due to the toxins in the venom released.
Snakebites are not as common in
Malaysia as they are in other parts of Asia and Africa where a large number
of rural people don't wear protective footwear. Most snakebite occurs on the
hands and arms or legs and feet.
Not every cobra's bite will result in the release of venom. There is a
study that shows that the percentage of "blank" cobra bites may be quite
high as much as 45% out of all cases in Malaysia. Snake charmers in India too
are frequently bitten by their cobras and on one study, it was shown that
one out of three snake charmers bitten by king cobras had no signs of envenomation.
A cobra can do two things to make the victim suffer: a) bite your or b)
eject jets of venom towards you, usually at your eyes, as far as from 3
meters. This is called spitting.
A cobra's venom contains neurotoxin. When
a cobra bites you, the cells in the area bitten will die and degenerate.
Sometimes, this may be the only sign you have been bitten by a cobra and
this usually appears within 48 hours of the bite. There is also immediate
pain in the area around the bite. The skin darkens and there may be
blistering. There is a characteristic putrid smell. The area too might swell
progressively. If the neurotoxin enters the blood stream, you may experience
drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, salivation and even euphoria. you would also
suffer shortness of breath and respiratory paralysis which may lead to death
in 24 hours or a matter of minutes. Frothing too would occur around your
The vipers have long fangs folded up against the upper jaw. When
the viper strikes, the fangs stand erect. There are two groups of vipers:
typical vipers and pit vipers. The pit vipers have a special sensory organ
between their nostril and eye to detect their prey. The viper's toxin is
haematoxic which means it affects the circulatory system.
There is intense
pain and swelling at the bite site which often will ooze with blood. Then
the toxin spreads in the body and begins to affect the clotting factors.
Bleeding si a key sign -- you may bleed from your mouth, nose, anus and
under your skin. The toxin spreads more slowly as it damages the blood
vessels. At the end stage, the vessel collapses manifesting as cold skin, a
rapid and feeble pulse and a gradual loss of consciousness.
Sea snakes are
not aggressive and will only bite you if you provoke them. Nearly 80% of sea
snake bites do not produce venom. And unlike the cobra or viper, their bites
may be painless and free from swelling. you might not even think you have
Nevertheless, the venom is extremely potent containing
neurotoxins and myotoxins. The neurotoxins can paralyze a person just like a
cobra. The myotoxins cause your muscles to die and degenerate thus breaking
them down and releasing myoglobin and potassium into your bloodstream. There
may be a change in your urine color to reddish brown due to the myoglobins
present in your urine.
If you are bitten by any of these poisonous snakes,
first keep calm and restrict your movement to keep down the venom flow into
your blood. Take off your rings, watches, bracelets to allow swelling.
Splint the bitten area if you can to restrict movement. try to keep the
bitten area below the level of your heart. Seek medical help immediately
because you will need anti-venom. Do not apply a tourniquet, cold compress
or try to suck the venom out by mouth. Do not attempt excise the bite with a