According to Magen David Adom, there has been a sharp increase in snake bite calls in Israel over the past two months, compared to the same period last year.
Since the beginning of April, paramedics and EMTs treated 45 victims of snake bites, one of them was hospitalized, two evacuated in serious condition and five in moderate condition. During the same period of time last year, they treated 30 people, including 2 who were in serious condition and 2 in moderate condition. This represents a significant increase of 50% this year.
From the beginning of April of last year (2018) to the beginning of June 2019, paramedics and MDA EMTs provided medical treatment for 199 people who had been bitten by snakes, transporting 8 of them to a hospital in serious condition and 21 in moderate condition. Two of the victims were pronounced dead in hospital, including an 81-year-old resident of the Sharon region and a 75-year-old woman from the north of the country.
Data from MDA indicates that 69 of the total number (35%) of the applicants are minors under the age of 18, including 8 toddlers under the age of 3 (4% of the total number of those who were bitten). Twelve of the victims (6%) are elderly over the age of 65. An 18-month-old baby was the youngest snakebite victim in the past year, and the oldest was an 86-year-old man.
151 of all the victims since April 2018 were boys and 48 girls. 91 were bitten in the center of the country and in the Sharon region, 64 in the north and 44 in the south.
In the summer months (April 2018 – September 2018) 118 people were bitten, and in the winter months (October 2018 – March 2019) 36 people were bitten. More than three people were killed during the six months of summer, compared with six months of winter, according to MDA.
“At this time of year, there is an increase in activity among poisonous snakes, such as the viper, and in order to avoid bites, preventive activities can be performed to reduce the encounter between humans and snakes,” explains Dorel Erzuan, an MDA paramedic and professional instructor. MDA expains, “Avoid turning rocks and stones, be careful while sitting on lawns and bare ground in nature, and not walk barefoot or sandals in these places.
MDA explains, “In cases where people are bitten when they are in the open area and not in a proper address, it is very important to use the ‘My MDA’ app, which helps paramedics and EMTs at the call center and in an ambulance locate one’s exact location.
In the event of a bite, the following must be done:
1. Make sure it’s a bite and check for a sign to verify
2. Always suspect that this is a venomous snake
3. Do not delay and immediately call MDA on the emergency phone 101 or by using the “My MDA” app
4. Remove the victim from the area and transfer him to a safe place
5. Ensure complete rest and relaxation of the injured person, and prevent movement of the injured organ
6. Remove clothing and jewelry from the bitten organ
7. If possible, carefully photograph the snake to help identify it and treat the victim.
Not allowed under any circumstances:
1. Do not cut the bite
2. Do not suck the venom
3. Do not apply a tourniquet
4. Do not cool the bites
5. Do not give the victim food or drink
6. Do not try to apprehend the snake
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)