Poisonous bites fall into two subcategories: spider bites and snake bites. If bitten by a snake or spider, try to get a good look at the markings and colors of the animal.
It is important to be able to describe it to medical professionals since spiders and snakes produce many types of venom, requiring different antivenin treatments. However, do not attempt to capture the animal as it may bite again.
How serious: in healthy adults, even potentially fatal poisonous spider bites can be treated up to 48 hours after the bite occurs, but symptoms in small children can be more fast-acting and severe. Snake bites are far more serious. Medical attention should be sought within 30 minutes after the bite occurs.
How likely: poisonous bites are unlikely unless travelers are in rural or wilderness areas.
Where are they found: poisonous snakes and spiders are found worldwide in warm climates. The Brazilian wandering spider in South America and Costa Rica and the Australian funnel-web spider in Australia (except West Australia) are the two most poisonous spiders in the world.
Symptoms: itching, pain, necrosis, flu-like illness, and death.
How to avoid it: when in the wilderness, wear long pants and boots. Do not stray off trails and stay at least 6 feet away from all snakes.
How to treat spider bites: apply topical cortisone cream and take an oral antihistamine. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention. Doctors may treat the bite with cortisone injections or, in extreme cases, antivenin (antivenom) injections.
How to treat snake bites: seek medical attention immediately. Doctors will administer antivenin (antivenom) injections. Meanwhile, apply a snug bandage (one finger-width should fit into the bandage) two to four inches upstream of blood flow to the heart and stay immobilized to reduce heart rate. Do not ice the bite, apply a tourniquet that entirely cuts off blood-flow, or make incisions into the bite. If available, an extractor kit applied within 5 minutes of the bite and left on for 30 minutes can aid in lessening the effects of the venom.
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