Historical Cooloola – Treatment of Snake-Bite

historical cooloola snakebiteThank goodness the remedy for snake bite has changed in the last century. The recommended “stimulant” would be just as necessary for the first aider as much for the patient!

submitted by Marion Young, author of Lights of Cooloola

Maryborough Chronicle, January 9, 1896:

The subject of revising the instructions for the treatment of snakebite, the restoration of the apparently drowned or suffocated, and directions for avoiding as far as possible the danger of getting hydatids, has been under the consideration of the Board of Health lately, and amended directions in regard to these matters in accordance with the most modern treatment will shortly be issued and posted at various public places throughout the colony.

The directions for the immediate treatment of snakebite, which are illustrated with diagrams, showing the method of cutting out the bitten part and the method of applying ligatures, are as follows: “A ligature that is, a strong string, tape, narrow strip of clothing or handkerchief, should be tied at once around the limb, above the bitten part. When it has been tied, pass a piece of stick under it, and twist it round and round so as to screw up the ligature as tightly as you can. Leave the stick in the twisted ligature, and secure the end by another string. Great pain and swelling are caused by this, but cannot be avoided. At the end of half an hour undo the ligature for five minutes; then tie and screw up again.

At the end of another half-hour the ligature may be removed altogether. In places where a ligature cannot be tied, as on the neck or face, pinch up the bitten part between the finger and thumb, and cut it out. In any case the bitten part should be cut into by numerous little cuts, over and around the bites, for about half an inch around, and sucked by the mouth freely and perseveringly; and this can be done without danger by any person.

Stimulants, such as brandy, whisky, gin, rum in small quantities at a time (a few teaspoonfuls), or strong tea or coffee, or wine may be given if the patient be faint. Do no more to the patient than is advised above, but obtain the services of a medical man”.

Copies of Marion’s book can be purchased at Rainbow Beach and Cooloola Cove newsagents.

If you have some history you would like to share about the Cooloola Coast, or an old local photo, please email info@rbcn.com.au or call 07 5486 3561.

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