Hospitals told to ready antivenins

The Public Health Ministry Wednesday ordered hospitals to stock up on seven kinds of snake antivenin for rainy season after a six-year-old Surin province boy died of snake bites earlier this week.

Permanent-secretary Narong Sahametapat said medical centres under the ministry's jurisdiction should stock serums for cobra, King cobra, Malayan krait, Russell's viper, Malayan pit viper, green pit viper and Bungaru flaviceps (Sam Liem) snakes during times of heavy flooding.  Each year, around 7,000-8,000 people are bitten by snakes, half of them during floods, he said.

Provincial public-health offices also were told to disseminate information on prevention of snake bites and first-aid treatments to be employed before victims are hospitalised.

Anurak Amornphetsathaporn, director of the Emergency Public Health Office, said people bitten by a snake should wash the wound with clean water and hurry to a nearby hospital. They should remain as still as possible, particularly the bitten limb, so as to slow the spread of the poison in the bloodstream.

He said people should not widen or suck the wound, cover it with ice, herbs, or drinking alcohol; should not take aspirin nor use rope or fabric as a tourniquet, as it may cause tissue damage. Also, if possible, the snake should be brought to the hospital to help in identification and antivenin dosage, he said.

The announcement came after a boy in Surin's Muang district was bitten to death in his sleep by a black and white Malayan krait. He went to bed around 7pm, but the bites weren't discovered until two hours later when he developed a cough and severe stomach ache. Grandparents killed the snake, which was thought to have crawled in the warm bed to escape flood waters.

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