How long does it take to feel the effects of a snake bite?

Poisonous snake bite takes seconds to minutes to take effects and even kill if no medical intervention is instituted. Please read this true life experience narrated by a doctor….

The UEFA Cup final reminds me of an experience I had at UITH. I was at the emergency that night around 11pm when some guys strolled in. One of them said, “doctor something bite me for leg” a few minutes ago. They were walking from a viewing centre back to their hostel at Kwara Poly.

His friends kept on insisting that nothing was wrong with him and that it was a piece of wood that scratched his leg. They said he was high, cos he had been drinking Alomo at the viewing centre. I brought on my “continuation sheet” and wrote somethings down.

After some minutes he told me he wanted to leave because his friends were getting restless. My church mind said “keep the guy under observation” but the A/E wasn’t a comfortable place to keep someone who appeared to be fine. I asked him to seat beside the consulting table.

I didn’t see any sign of a bite, I checked his leg, I didn’t see any mark. And I gave him my ipad to watch some movies just to keep him busy for few more minutes. I went to the call room to eat and while eating the nurse came to call me, she was shouting hysterically.

I went back to the A/E and saw the guy on the floor, sweating and vomiting. He was foaming from the mouth as if someone emptied a sachet of Ariel in his throat. Suddenly he wasn’t responding to calls anymore, he was going into shock. Snake bite !!! Kasala ti boxx

We placed him on the bed, he kept on jeering and flapping his hands. Some of his friends took off, they couldn’t believe that a seemingly normal person could deteriorate in minutes. I had never seen a case of snake bite envenomation before. We placed him on oxygen..

I called my registrar, Where can we get antivenom? We called the pharmacy, the Pharmacists also made some calls and we got some antivenoms and we started the preparation of the antivenoms . We gave him the antivenom and like magic all the symptoms resolved before the next day.

How long does it take to feel the effects of a snake bite?
How long does it take to feel the effects of a snake bite?

I thanked my stars that I didn’t allow him go home. I would have had to explain to God and Man, my career would have suffered for it.
I learnt a valuable lesson never to ignore “simple things” in healthcare. Nothing is simple or severe until you are sure as a doctor.

The power of life and death could be in our hands at any minute and there is a thin line between the two. We also need poison centres and certified toxicologists in Nigeria. No toll free or hotlines to poison centres. Poison centres should be established in states.

Written by Dr Guendouzi


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