PUTRAJAYA, April 27 – A total of 730 cases of snake bites with one death have been reported in the country since January until yesterday, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam. He said Kedah recorded the highest number of snake bite cases at 195 followed by Perak (107) and Selangor (78), with one death in Kelantan. He advised the public to immediately get treatment at the nearest hospital or clinic if they suspect they had been bitten by snakes.
“Do not do anything like applying compression, cut off the affected part or try to suck out the venom from the affected area. Also, there is no need to tie a cloth. The body movements of the affected region must be reduced and the victim has to be calmed down. All decisions regarding post-bite treatments and whether or not the victim should be given anti-venom would only be made by doctors,” he told a press conference here today.
Dr Subramaniam also said there were 139 hospitals throughout the country which provide anti-venom treatment and that hospitals would supply one another if the stocks had depleted. He said most of the cases involved non-venomous species and that doctors would give the right anti-venom based on the identified species involved in the attack.
“In the meanwhile, this does not mean that we have to catch the snake and bring it to the hospital. If the fire and rescue department or the wildlife department officers have the snake with them, then they will hand it over to the hospitals to help the doctors,” he said.
According to Dr Subramaniam, there are two types of anti-venom available, the mono-valent and poly-valent. He also said there was no need to supply anti-venoms to schools at the moment. He said these anti-venoms can only be given by a specialist under controlled environmental conditions. He said it cannot be given by anyone and anywhere because of risks.
“The risk of anti-venom is greater than the (snake) bite itself. People might get reactions from anti-venom as it is made of horse serum. When you inject an animal serum, the human body will react and we need to have resuscitation facilities to treat the victims,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Subramaniam had witnessed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia’s College of Anaesthesiologists and the College of Anaesthetists of Ireland. The MoU was signed to give local medical practitioners the opportunity to further their studies in order to become specialists in anaesthesiology. He said there were 487 anaesthetists in the country so far, and the nation needed 200 more to facilitate surgical procedures and intensive care.