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New First-Aid Might Help Treat Snakebite Victims

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Snake bites are common injuries that can be incredibly dangerous, if not fatal. A new study aims to prevent more loss of lives caused by snake bites with a new method of administering first-aid.

Dr. Vance Nielsen at the University of Arizona is researching a new therapy to treat rattlesnake bites. Hopefully, this treatment will soon be used like an EpiPen, where the treatment is injected into a snakebite victim in the field in order to buy some time to get to the nearest medical facility, ABC News reports.

Nielsen, a professor and vice chair for research in the University of Arizona Department of Anesthesiology and the College of Medicine, said that venom is dangerous to the nervous system and tends to disrupt the normal flow of blood.

Snake venom, depending on the type of snake, can cause either clotting or inhibit clotting. In the former, this coagulation can lead to a heart attack or a stroke, while the latter, called anti-coagulation, causes excessive bleeding.

Nielsen’s therapy is to inject carbon monoxide into the venom directly, in order to stop its effects from escalating. He said,

There’s a gigantic body of literature about how carbon monoxide can make things better or worse in human medicine. I was looking at the coagulation angle of it.

Not many people are studying this, he added.

His treatment has successfully shown that the treatment blocks 36 different kinds of venom from reacting with animal and human plasma. He has had successful animal tests for at least an hour, he said.

The next step is for Nielsen to test an application that resembles an EpiPen, or direct injection into the bitten area. He intends to start on animals before proceeding to humans, and has to follow through on whether or not the treatment can last for more than an hour.

But anti-venom is the standard snakebite treatment, he clarified. “This is not to replace antivenom.” Rather, this therapy is meant to repress the poisonous characteristics of venom, in order to lessen the damage to a snakebite victim’s body.

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