SNAKE BITE: A woman was bitten on the finger after disturbing a snake behind a laundry basket.
SNAKE BITE: A woman was bitten on the finger after disturbing a snake behind a laundry basket.

Snake bite victim: I thought my finger was going to explode

THE Mackay Hospital and Health Service has revealed what patients bitten by snakes go through.

The hospital's latest patient, the third in three days, was bitten on the finger after disturbing the snake behind a laundry basket.

"I could see the mark on my finger, there were two little dots and a bit of blood, but no pain," she said.

The woman got her husband to bandage her arm and they sought medical help.

"The pain wasn't instant but after a couple of hours it set in and my finger and hand started swelling," she said.

"The feeling of pressure in my finger is enormous - it feels like it could explode.

"I've also got some numbness, a burning feeling and pins and needles from my finger to the elbow."

Fortunately all three patients are all home after spending 24 hours in hospital.

They warned to remember many snake bites do not produce any symptoms like this but can still be lethal.

On Thursday Queensland Ambulance Service said they had noticed a significant spike in snake bites in Mackay this year.

Mackay Chief Superintendent James Cunington said Mackay paramedics have already attended 40 snake bite cases and more are expected as summer approaches.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service have treated a total of 68 people for snake bites (though not necessary for envenomisation) at its Mackay and Proserpine hospitals so far this year.

Supt Cunington said there's been more than 500 snake bite cases across Queensland since the start of 2016.

He warned we live among some of the deadliest snakes in the world.

"Queensland is home to some of the most dangerous species of snakes, including the eastern brown and the red-bellied black snake, and all are capable of delivering a lethal bite," he said.

Mr Cunington warned people to take care when working outdoors or travelling through snake habitats, such as when out bushwalking.

"If you're cleaning up your property, be careful shifting timber, iron sheeting or similar materials as snakes can be lingering nearby," he said.

"Also avoid walking through long grass, but if you have to, wear enclosed shoes and long pants and carry a compression bandage with you.

"Make your property less attractive to snakes by disposing of food properly, including pet food, and keeping animal enclosures such as aviaries clean to prevent rodents such as mice and rats."

Mr Cunington urged everyone to have a first aid kit handy to treat a bite and to have a clear understanding of what to do in an emergency.

"A snake bite can be fatal so always call 000 immediately, and keep the patient as calm as possible to reduce the spread of venom around the body," he said.

"Don't wash the wound, as the hospital may need to test the area to identify the snake.

"Bandage over the snake bite firmly, then work up the limb starting at the extremities (fingers and toes) and splint the limb to keep it straight."

In recent days Mackay snake catcher Matt Moon told the Mercury this year has been a particularly active one.

He said he attends between two and five relocations on an average day.

Queensland Ambulance offers a number of first aid courses to prepare the public for emergencies, including snake bites.

If you or someone is bitten you should:

  • Call 000 for an ambulance - don't drive yourself to hospital
  • Keep still - don't move around - moving spreads the venom
  • Apply a firm bandage from the bite working up the limb as far as possible
  • Do not wash or cut the bite

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