Are snake-bite kits effective?
Posted on 05/02/2013
A hunter from Alabama reported last week in Facebook how carrying a snake-bite kit and using it, saved his leg and possibly his life after being bitten by a Timber Rattlesnake. He described that:
…was able to remove the majority (I guestimated 3-4 cups) of the venom contaminated blood. Following the instructions from the kit.
(Read his whole story and see the photo of the snake bite in this Facebook page).
But even if we have always carried a kit while camping, hiking or playing paintball in the woods, I must recognize that, according to the information I have seen in recent years, exist many doubts in the medical community about how effective is this self-treatment, going as far as saying that it may cause more bad than good.
To illustrate the negative point-of- view you can read the article Deadly Dilemma: Do Snake-Bite Kits Help?, published by the Wall Street Journal on May 12, 2009. The main points for the opinions against the kit treatment can be summarized in that it’s partially based on outdated concepts and the criteria that the suction won’t remove a substantial amount of venom (some percents are referred). In the other side of the polemic topic the article covers supporting views. You may be interested in reading also opinions published in a forum thread of Backpacking Light named VOTE: Snakebite Kit (Take it / Leave it).
Now is rainy season in the Southeast of the country and snakes tend to be more active. For example, today was reported in South Florida the case of a 7-year-old girl bitten by a Water Mocassin in her own backyard (Via WSVN-TV), so, a topic of life and death is very important and more definitive research is needed (I don’t know if the kits work or not but anyways plan to carry my Sawyer Extractor Kit just in case).
For more on snakes check this post in oncamping.net.