brown-snakeOn Australia Day, while most people were celebrating with a BBQ and a cold drink, George, a 4 ½ year old Kelpie, was having a very different type of Aussie experience. George presented to AES trembling, barely able to walk, and salivating profusely. His owners had found him in this condition and were very worried about him. The signs he was showing were typical of advanced snake bite, so Dr Luke Hearnden set about confirming the diagnosis as quickly as possible.

George had a coagulation test performed. This is a simple test that gives results quickly, and is used as a screening test for snake bite, as most of the snakes in south east Queensland have venom that interferes with clotting of the blood. George had a coagulation time greater than five minutes – more than 2.5 times normal, which put him at risk of developing internal haemorrhage at any time.

To determine the type of snake that had bitten George, a Snake Venom Detection Test was performed – these are the same tests that are used in human hospitals. In humans, a swab of the bite site is taken, but as a bite is rarely found in animals due to their hairy coat, urine is used instead. This test confirmed that George had been bitten by a brown snake.

Although these tests are performed quickly, the venom acts very quickly too, and by the time George was given anti-venene, he was unable to stand and could barely lift his head.

After receiving 4000 units of brown snake anti-venene, George’s coagulation time had improved significantly, but was still prolonged. This indicated that, although George was responding to treatment, he required more anti-venene, so an additional 1500 units was administered.

An hour after this treatment George had a normal coagulation time, was much brighter and he was sitting up. Within 12 hrs of treatment, George was standing and walking, and within 24 hours, he was completely normal. George was lucky that his owners found him when they did and acted so quickly – and although a trip to Animal Emergency Service was not what they had in mind for Australia Day, George is now ready for his next BBQ!

Written by Solange Newton

19th October 2015 – Australian Country Music star, Lee Kernaghan, posts about his little mate “Princess” admitted to Animal Emergency Service after being bitten by an Eastern Brown snake.


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