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Mum tells how brave Eli cheated taipan death

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Friday, February 10, 2017

The below article was taken from The Observer Thursday 9 February 2017. Snakebite is a medical emergency and calls for an immediate response. Symptoms can progress quickly in children. A well placed compression bandage ASAP may effectively delay the onset of envenomation and significantly improve the prognosis.

"This isn't where it ends."

Those are the words Brittany Cervantes used when she was told to say goodbye to her two-year-old son who had just fallen into cardiac arrest.

Moments earlier Eli Campbell was bitten three times by one of Australia's most deadly snakes, a taipan.

With an irregular heartbeat and falling into cardiac arrest, Brittany Cervantes was told her son would die.

But, defying doctors beliefs, the Agnes Water boy survived.

Speaking to The Observer in their first interview since the tragedy, Brittany recalled the moments she almost lost her only son.

On the morning of September 26 while checking for eggs in the chicken pen, Eli paused and cried to Brittany "ow, ow, ow".

That's when Brittany saw something that would send shivers down any parent's spine.

"There were these two little blood spots, tiny (on his right leg), and then I saw two more," she recalled.

"I had him sitting on my lap and I could feel him slowly start to go.

"His ears were going purple and within 15 minutes he was vomiting."

Within the next 30 minutes, after paramedics arrived, Eli fell in to cardiac arrest.

"I just remember (my partner) Giles saying 'look now we have to say goodbye' and I just kept saying 'this isn't where it ends, he's going to be an older brother'."

"They stabilised him, I don't know how, and then he was onto the ambulance onto the gurney getting him ready for the flight to Bundaberg."

But Eli's fight was far from over and he was flown to Bundaberg Hospital in a serious condition, and later to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

In the days that followed Giles, a former CSIRO scientist, and Brittany, a massage therapist, were told Eli would make a full recovery. But that hope was short-lived.

"In days we were told he was going to make a full recovery to 'your child could be blind'," Brittany said.

"That was devastating ... all your dreams are just shattered into a million pieces."

Five months on, and living in Brisbane to be closer to therapists and specialists, Eli is in the last days of his six-week rehabilitation and doing "remarkably well".

They are in a transition from hospital living to being independent, while still seeking specialists and therapies to help his recovery.

But the near-fatal snake bite will have life-long impacts.

Eli now has epilepsy, which is on anti-seizure medication for, after the taipan attack, and the family is still learning the extent of his brain injury.

With little other information about the impacts of snake venom on children, it's been a learning curve for Brittany, Giles and medical professionals.

Eli has learned how to live again, from swallowing to walking and talking. Prior to the attack Brittany said he excelled with numbers, but now his focus is on learning shapes and colours.

"I just can't believe it that this little boy is sitting in the room with us, it's unreal," Brittany said.

"There's moments where I look at him and think did any of this even happen, did we just imagine it all.

"He has this spark, this shine, he just seems so spot on."

The former Agnes Water woman said they were yet to return to normality.

But she's hopeful that will come with the expected arrival of their second child on March 24.

"It changes the way you look at your kids," Brittany said.

"You don't mind if your house is dirty, it doesn't matter about the silly mundane things.

"It's about your kid and doing the absolute best you can for him."

Each day Eli does exercises to improve his mental and physical strength.

The two-year-old, described as a cheeky toddler, has captured the hearts of people around the world who have donated money to help his recovery.

A GoFundMe page set up by Agnes Water friend and neighbour Blake Hyland has received more than $70,000 in donations.

The money has helped pay for appointments with specialists and will be used for his ongoing therapy.

"This has allowed us to relocate to where we need to be and get access to therapies and equipment, and to be able to really focus on our son," Brittany said.

Tiger snake bites father and son in their Melbourne home

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The below article was taken from The Guardian Friday 6 January 2017. Manage snakebite risk around your home by being prepared. Stock appropriate compression bandages and learning the basic principals of snakebite first aid.

Tiger snake bites father and son in their Melbourne home

Matt Horn bitten twice after he found 11-year-old Braeden, who has autism, playing with the reptile.

A Melbourne father and his 11-year-old autistic son have been bitten by a tiger snake that slithered into their suburban home.

Matt Horn was bitten twice as he tried to protect his son, Braeden, who had been bitten while playing with the snake in the hallway of their Diamond Creek home.

Ambulance Victoria confirmed on Friday that paramedics had treated the pair for suspected snake bites on Tuesday before they were taken to the Austin hospital.

A snake catcher, Mark Pelley, was called in to remove the snake. “Both of them got bitten and they got away unscathed because they did the right thing by calling triple-zero and the ambulance attended them straight away,” Pelley said.

“The only problem was the father was trapped in the room and he couldn’t get any treatment from the paramedics until I arrived to remove the snake.”

Pelley said tiger snakes were not normally aggressive and would strike only if people attempted to handle them. “The son had autism and didn’t know what was happening so he handled the snake and it bit him,” he said.

Tiger snakes often entered homes to escape the heat on hot nights, he said.

Australian man bitten by taipan snake dies after six days in hospital

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The below article was taken from The Guardian, Tuesday 27 December 2016. The question raised by many of these cases is wether or not snakebite first aid was immediately and correctly applied. The Pressure Bandage + Immobilisation technique has been proven to delay the spread of venom into the system. Snakebite is a medical emergency requiring an immediate response:

  • 1) check for danger
  • 2) commence first aid

Australian man bitten by taipan snake dies after six days in hospital

David Pitt, 77, went into cardiac arrest after highly venomous reptile bit him on the foot in his home in far north Queensland.

An elderly man bitten by a taipan at his home in Queensland has died after spending nearly a week in hospital.

David Pitt, 77, went into cardiac arrest after the highly venomous snake bit him on the foot at his home in Yorkeys Knob, Cairns, on 20 December.

Pitt was attempting to remove the snake which had slithered into his lounge room when he was bitten. He was revived and taken to intensive care at Cairns hospital but died on Boxing Day.

The coastal taipan is Australia’s largest venomous snake, with some adults growing two metres long.

Girl dies from brown snake bite in Walgett, NSW

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Monday, February 15, 2016

The article below appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald on February 15th, 2016. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the victims family and friends.


A six-year-old girl has died after being bitten by a brown snake in Far North NSW, prompting emergency services to issue a state-wide warning.

The girl was bitten on a property near Walgett about 3pm on Friday.

She was taken to Walgett Hospital, where doctors administered anti-venom, then flown to the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick where she was placed on life support.

After her condition deteriorated significantly, she was transferred back to Walgett Hospital where she died on Saturday.

NSW Ambulance and NSW Police have issued a reminder to people to be wary of snakes in warmer months.

Tips from NSW Ambulance include:

  • If you are bitten by a snake, ensure someone calls triple zero immediately.
  • Until help arrives, if the bite is on a limb, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage but not so tight that it will cut off circulation.
  • If the bite is not on a limb, apply direct and firm pressure to the bite site with your hands (it is also important the patient is kept still).
  • Check items of clothing that have been left outside before wearing them and if you lift something such as a rock or log, lift the object so it's facing away from you.

Numbers of eastern brown snakes have proliferated over the years due to large-scale land clearing, which provides a ready supply of rodents for the snakes to feed on, the Australian Museum says.

They are most commonly found in scrublands, rural areas that have been heavily modified for agriculture and on the suburban outskirts of large towns and cities across eastern Australia.

The brown snake causes more deaths from snake bite than any other species of snake in Australia.

Many bites are caused by people trying to kill the snakes or move them, causing the snake to react viciously.

They typically have small fangs but extremely potent venom that can cause progressive paralysis and uncontrollable bleeding that can spread to the brain.

The initial bite is generally painless and often difficult to detect, the Australian Museum says.

Gingin man dies after freak snake bite

Author: Craig Adams
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Brian Bush is spot on identifying the critical risk factors of brown snake envenomation.

Gingin man dies after freak snake bite

WA Today

Perth Zoo officers have confirmed that the snake that killed a 43-year-old Gingin man was a highly venomous western brown snake.

The snake was originally thought to be a tiger snake, but zoo experts confirmed the species this afternoon. It is the second death attributed to the venomous reptile in two years.

Police spokeswoman Susan Usher said the man was bitten on the toe around 8.30pm on Friday night.

"He was at his home when he phoned someone to say he'd been bitten by a snake and was then taken to hospital," Ms Usher said. He later died in hospital.

Perth Zoo spokeswoman Debbie Read said health authorities brought the 50 centimetre snake to the zoo yesterday and keepers identifed it as a western brown today.

"The keepers were very surprised that the snake was able to inject a lethal amount because its fangs were so small," Ms Read said.

"They are a highly venomous species and it was dead when it was brought here."

Snake handler Brian Bush said the last snake-related death in WA was in January 2009 when a 60-year-old Carnarvon woman was bitten, also by a western brown snake.

"The smallest western brown to kill someone was an 18 centimetre snake that bit a 27-year-old pregnant woman in 1982," Mr Bush said.

He said 11 people had died in WA after being bitten by a snake since 1986.

Health Department spokeswoman Crystal Fairbairn said 77 people had so far been treated for snake bites in WA this year.

Information collected by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital's poisons information centre showed about 100 snake bites were recorded in the state each year, but deaths were rare.

"There have been no recorded inpatient deaths from snake bite over the past 10 years in WA," spokeswoman Clare Chamberlain said.

"On average, there are two deaths attributed to snake bites per year in Australia."

Mr Bush said western brown snake bites were especially dangerous because the victim often didn't feel any symptoms until it was too late.

"With a brown snake you can show no symptoms at all until there's an acute drop in blood pressure and you pass out and a lot of people experience cardiac arrest," he said.

"The western brown is involved in most of our fatalities. They have this predilection to enter buildings to look for mice."

The Red Cross has urged people to be wary of snakes as the weather heats up, with the elderly, children and sick people most at risk.

Those bitten could suffer from a number of symptoms including nausea and vomiting, ringing ears, blurred vision, paralysis and cardiac arrest.

Mr Bush said snake bite symptoms could appear fairly rapidly and that anyone bitten should use bandages or clothing to wrap the affected area.

"I understand this man was bitten on the toe and he should have bandaged that right up the foot and up to his leg," Mr Bush said.

"That closes the spaces in the tissue and traps the venom to stop it travelling through the body."

Mr Bush said while anti-venom stocks were sufficient in southern WA, regional hospitals often had limited supplies.

"Our tiger snake anti-venom works pretty good but the brown snake one isn't the best because it's made from snakes from the eastern states," he said.

"It can take up to 20 plus ampoules of anti-venom (to treat western brown snake bites)."

Extract taken from WA Today. Read the enire article here.

Image Courtesy: Jannico Kelk

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