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Snakebite in the Mountains

11 Mar 2008

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ABSTRACT

Objective. The prevention and management of venomous snakebite in the world’s mountains present unique challenges. This paper presents a series of practical, clinically sound recommendations for management of venomous snakebite in a mountain environment.

Methods. The authors performed an extensive review of current literature using search engines and manual searches. They then fused the abundant knowledge of snakebite with the realities of remote first aid and mountain rescue to develop recommendations. Results. A summary is provided of the world’s most troublesome mountain snakes, and the mechanisms of toxicity from their bites. Preventive measures are described. Expected symptoms and signs are reviewed in lay and medical terms. A review of currently recommended first aid measures and advanced medical management for physicians, paramedics, and other clinicians is included.

Conclusions. Venomous snakebites in mountainous environments present unique challenges for management. This paper offers practical recommendations for managing such cases, and summarizes the approach to first aid and advanced management in two algorithms.

KEY WORDS

Snakebite, rescue, mountaineering, elapid, viper, antivenom, first aid

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