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Nurse dispatch - First aid for Scorpion stings and Snake bites

posted Sep 29, 2011, 3:58 AM by Marylene, MICHELET   [ updated Sep 29, 2011, 4:08 AM by Unknown user ]

Dear Parents,

While the snake found on campus this week was most likely a harmless reptile, I would still like to take the opportunity to provide first aid information for snakebites as well as scorpion stings, since they are more commonly seen in Dakar.  As always, prevention is the best medicine.  Avoid putting your hand anywhere in, under, or behind that you cannot first visually inspect, especially poorly lit areas.  Check under sheets or blankets before sliding into bed at night.   Be aware when walking in areas of tall grass where snakes and other insects could hide. 

Now that you have the following first aid information, may you never need to use it!

First Aid for Scorpion Stings

Signs & Symptoms:

-A mark indicating a possible bite or sting

- Severe pain in the sting or bite area

- Blister, lesion, or swelling at entry site

- Nausea and vomiting

- Stiff or painful joints

- Chills or fever

- Trouble breathing or swallowing or signs of anaphylaxis

- Sweating or salivating profusely

- Muscle aches or severe abdominal or back pain

- Dizziness or fainting

- Chest pain

- Elevated heart rate

- Infection at the site of the bite


Call SOS Medecin 33 889 1515 or S.U.M.A. Urgencess 33 824 6030


Until further help arrives*:

-       Remain calm

-       Wash the wound thoroughly

-       Apply an antibiotic ointment, if the person has no known allergies or sensitivities to the medication, to prevent infection

-       Bandage the wound

-       Apply an ice or cold pack to the site to reduce pain and swelling

-       If you transport the person to a medical facility, keep the stung area elevated and as still as possible


First Aid for Snake Bites



Poisonous snakes inject venom using modified salivary glands.  During envenomation (the bite that injects the venom or poison), the venom passes from the gland through a duct into the snake’s fangs, and finally into its prey.  Not all bites lead to envenomation.  Snakes can regulate whether to release venom and how much to release.  “Dry Bites” (a bite where no venom is injected) occur between 25%-50% of snakebites.  Snake venom is a combination of numerous substances with varying effects.


These proteins can be divided into 4 categories:


1.     Cytotoxins – cause local tissue damage

2.     Hemotoxins – cause internal bleeding

3.     Neurotoxins – nervous system effects

4.     Cardiotoxins – act directly on the heart


Call SOS Medecin or S.U.M.A. Urgences


Until further help arrives*:

-       Remain calm

-       Identify or be able to describe the snake, but only if it can be done without significant risk of a second bite or victim

-       Remove constricting clothing, jewelry which could cut off blood flow if the bite area swells

-       Cleanse the wound, but do not flush it with water

-       Apply an elastic (pressure immobilization) bandage to slow the spread of venom through the lymphatic system by following these steps:

o   Check for feeling, warmth and color of the limb and note changes in skin color and temperature

o   Place the end of the bandage against the skin and use overlapping turns

o   The wrap should cover a long body section such as an arm or a calf, beginning at the point farthest from the heart.  For a joint, such as the knee or ankle, use figure-eight turns to support the joint

o   Check above and below the injury for feeling, warmth and color, especially fingers and toes after you have applied an elastic bandage.  By checking before and after bandaging, you may be able to tell if any tingling or numbness is from the elastic bandage or the injury

o   Check the snugness of the bandaging – a finger should easily, but not loosely, pass under the bandage

o   Keep the injured area still and lower than the heart.  The person should walk only if absolutely necessary

-       Apply a splint to immobilize the area  if transport to an emergency medical facility will be prolonged

-       The victim needs a tetanus booster if he or she has not had one within 5 years.



-       Do not  apply ice

-       Do not cut the wound – it can damage the underlying organs and increase the risk of infection

-       Do not  apply suction – it has not been shown to result in venom removal

-       Do not apply a tourniquet or constriction band – these have not been shown to be effective, may cause increased tissue damage, and could cost the victim a limb

-       Do not  use electric shocks- they are not effective and could cause burns or electrical problems to the heart

-       Do not  use alcohol – it may lessen pain but will increase the size of the local blood vessels, which increases venom absorption


*Recommendations taken from the American Red Cross


As always, please contact me with any questions.


Thank you,


Katie Morgan

School Nurse

International School of Dakar