Insect bites and animal bites: treating and recognising signs and symptoms in the patient
Bee, wasp, hornet and Aleutian stings: treatment, symptoms, cure. In summer, snake bites and insect stings are much more common. Insect bites are dangerous for those who are allergic to the venom
Some patients run the risk of a severe reaction (anaphylactic shock, respiratory and then cardiac arrest).
However, if a group sting occurs, from a swarm of insects, or the point of injury is on a sensitive mucous membrane (particularly the oral cavity), the danger of injury increases even for non-allergic persons.
First aid in the event of insect bites
In the event of a sting, check immediately whether the stinger is still in the wound.
In this case, try to remove it with the utmost caution.
Great care must be taken with bees, so as not to squeeze out any poison sacs that these insects lose when they sting.
After extracting the stinger, the wound must be carefully washed and disinfected.
A good way to reduce the pain is to cool the sting area with ice or cold water. If the sting is on a limb, it is a good idea to try to hold it up.
After the sting, a major allergic reaction to the venom may occur. The main manifestation is swelling and swelling of the affected part.
Obviously there is pain and the possibility of breathing difficulties.
If the swelling affects the throat, it is essential to call 118 because the situation is potentially dangerous for the patient.
The observation of the patient should last about one hour from the time of the puncture.
Allergy sufferers usually carry the necessary life-saving medication for treatment of the sting.
These medicines should not be administered; the CO should be advised to facilitate their use by the patient.
Serious situations for which one should move towards activating the most appropriate ALS procedures concern the information available.
If the person is already known to have an allergic reaction, if the stings are numerous, if the insect has been swallowed or stung on the mouth and neck, if symptoms of an allergic reaction appear, it is essential to ensure the intervention of the doctor and nurse. In addition to insects, there are also spiders that can cause serious damage: the malmignatta, the violin spider and the avicularia are dangerous. The horsefly is not dangerous. Ticks are a different matter.
Prevention of snake and spider bites
The basic notes to be spread among the population, especially in mountain areas, concern behaviour.
Do not put your hands between stones, especially those in the sun, and do not sit down without first hitting the boulder with a stick.
Flat shoes should not be used and children’s behaviour should be constantly monitored.
First aid for a snake bite
In the Italian regions, venomous snakes are usually only viperids (horned vipers, common vipers, horned vipers and coluber).
A bite is a relatively rare occurrence.
Snakes only attack for defence and if there is no possibility of escape; the risk can be avoided by remembering that noises and heavy footsteps drive vipers away.
The venom of these snakes is potentially lethal, but the amount of liquid injected by the viper is too small to have any significant effect on humans.
The case for children is different. If a person is bitten by an adder, the following must be assessed
- the exact location of the bite
- the age of the person bitten
- the difficulty of arriving at a health post
- the difficulty of arriving at a primary aid station
It is necessary to proceed calmly and reassure the victim by not making him move.
To understand the venomousness of the bite it would be necessary to understand the snake involved, but if the bite is venomous the symptoms of poisoning will quickly appear:
- inflammation of the bitten area and acute pain
- spotty bleeding in the affected area
- intense thirst with dry mouth
- jaundice, cramps, agitation, delirium
The first process to be carried out in such cases is compression bandaging of the entire injured limb, with complete immobilisation.
In this case, it can take up to six hours before the listed complaints occur.
Otherwise it usually takes about an hour.
The rescuer must remember that in 30% of cases the viper bites without injecting venom.
The use of anti-viper serum is not recommended. Statistics show that in Italy the mortality rate due to anaphylactic shock caused by the use of anti-vipera serum is higher (>3%) than that caused by an adder bite (<2%). Anti-vipera serum is only used in hospitals and under medical supervision and prescription.
When a snake or spider bite has occurred, one method of treating the limbs is lymphostatic bandaging.
It has been shown that the venom, especially in snakes, passes immediately through the lymphatic system.
After a certain period of time it enters the bloodstream and flows through the rest of the body.
It is therefore more useful to block the venom in the lymphatic pathways than to stop the blood flow, which would pose a considerable risk.
- Apply a large, pressure bandage to the bite site. DO NOT remove your trousers as today’s extra movement helps the venom enter the bloodstream.
- Keep the leg immobile; DO NOT cut; DO NOT suck; DO NOT apply cold bodies or chemicals to the site, or use tourniquets;
- Extend the bandage downstream and upstream of the bite site (for a calf bite include the foot and then up to the root of the limb). The limb will not be deprived of blood supply in this way: arterial and deep venous flow will remain active. The lymphatic flow, which is the typical route of spread of the venom, and the superficial venous flow (in the extreme case where the venom has been inoculated directly into a venous vessel, even a very small one) are excluded.
- Immobilize the bandaged limb with splints (even for several hours). They should NOT be removed until the patient has been seen by a doctor. The doctor will decide when the bandages should be removed, and in this case the doctor will use the anti-fungal serum. Remember that, in addition to the antiophidic serum, the doctor also has drugs available to stop any allergic reactions caused by the serum.
- Method for the upper limb:
1) Bandage at the bite site, going down to the hand (fingertips) and up past the elbow
2) Use a splint up to the elbow.
3) Use a triangle to support the arm