SNAKE WARNING: Mackay Base Hospital emergency physician Dr Andrew Brier has urged residents to abide by snake bite protocols.
SNAKE WARNING: Mackay Base Hospital emergency physician Dr Andrew Brier has urged residents to abide by snake bite protocols. Contributed

46 people bitten by snakes in Mackay in six months

WITH conditions in Mackay region keeping snake activity high, doctors are imploring the community to abide by medical protocols in place to ensure their well-being.

Mackay Base Hospital has been flooded with 46 cases of snake bite since July 1 and 14 since the start of December.

Concerningly for doctors, patients have regularly been self-discharging from the hospital, leaving themselves open to health risks stemming from delayed effects from the bite.

Mackay Base Hospital emergency physician Dr Andrew Brier said the public needed to be aware of the protocols in place.

"Even if they show no signs of envenomation at all, the last round of blood tests get done 12 hours after the time of the bite (and) we have a very high proportion of patients who discharge prior to that time," Dr Brier said. "There are risks of delayed signs of envenomation, potentially permanent renal failure or something as serious as that."

Dr Brier said the snake species in the region presented a host of severe health risks including muscle paralysis, an inability for blood to clot and an increased chance of spontaneous bleeding in the event of associated trauma.

"One I personally dealt with was a black snake; the problem with black snakes is you can get marked muscle breakdown, which releases a chemical that needs to be cleared by the kidneys," he said.

"That can cause kidney damage, which may recover or may end up with the patient needing dialysis for permanent renal failure. That patient displayed early signs of significant black snake envenomation, which is significant abdominal distress and pain, and they were treated with anti-venom and had full resolution of symptoms within 15 minutes of the infusion starting.

"You may feel completely well initially, but you can have delayed onset of envenomation signs which you may not feel yourself but can be picked up in laboratory tests."



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