ANTIDOTES TO SNAKE BITES.
To the Editor of the Herald.
Sir,-Some time back, when Professor Halford's new remedy for snake bite first began to excite attention, some one in the bush wrote a letter to the Argus suggesting that convenient boxes should be fitted up with a syringe, scal- pel, and a bottle of ammonia, and oflerod for sale to squat- ters and diggers.
It is devoutly to be hoped that no enterprising chemist has thought fit to act upon this wild suggestion. Imagine, Mr. Editor, the shaking fingers of a shepherd or a digger and bushmen of course are those who suffer most from snake bites-groping with a sharp scalpel for the radial or the saphena vein, attempting to open it, when found, and then proceeding to inject into it the more or less carefully measured dose of ammonia. The remedy in such hands, I trow, would be worse than the disease, and even if the vein were found and opened, terrible accidents would be liable to occur, either from the injection of too
strong a dose of the alkali, or from the substitution for it of atmospheric air. The remedy may be a very good one, but it is one which must from its very nature remain in the hands of the faculty. Bushmen had better confine their treatment to stopping the cutaneous circulation by> a
ligature, and sucking the wound, or to removing the bitten
flesh, by running a stout pini under the punctured spot,
and cutting away beneath the raised pin t0gether with the local and internal use of ammonia or eau de luce.
The great point is that all these measures should he taken without any delay.
With regard to the injection of strong ammonia into the vein, one would not of course be surprised to see such a proceeding followed by phlebitis, and it is therefore desirable to discover, whether a less caustic alkali might not be found to answer the purpose fully as well. A writer in the Herald, of January 7th, suggested soda and the suggestion appears to me to be so reasonable, that it is worth putting to the test of experiment. If it were in the stimulant effect of ammonia that its remedial virtues, when used as an injecfion, consisted, then it is difficult to see why its administration by the lungs and stomach should be less efficacious ; indeed, it is clear that the injected ammonia either acts, simply by neu- tralising the acid of the poison, and rendering it inert, or else by putting a stop to some process of fermentation, or inflammation, supposed to be set up in the blood itself. Possibly carbonate of soda might fulfil all these conditions with less risk—just as it prevents milk from turning sour by heat, or from being coagulated by rennet. At all events, experiments with soda and other alkalies should be made by those scientific men who can readily procure deadly snakes, to settle his important question for us. It would seem reasonable, when equally convenient, to inject tho alkali into the superficial vein lending most directly from the bitten part.
Ammonia is said to be useful as a local application in scorpion stings. I have not found it so effectual as ipecacuanha used as a poultice. An error, either of the pen or of the compositors' stick, crept into my letter on this
subject, which I shall feel much, obliged by your correcting. Instead of saying "the bite of the small house scorpion is usually the most severe," I should have said "the sting of the house scorpion is the more usual in India." The scorpion proper both pinches, bites, and, stings, but it is only its sting which is seriously envenomed. The pseudo-scorpions without tails, arachnidians allied both to the scorpions and the tarantulas, bite venomously, and their bite is followed sometimes by serious results. They are common at ¡the Cape, and are very likely to exist in Queensland. Ipecac- uanha will be found to be a good and effectual remedy for the bites of all the venomous arachnidians and scolopen- dridae, as well as for the stings of bees and wasps, I sus- pect.
If there should arise any constitutional sinking, or other symptoms of nervous depression, a few doses ot aromatic ammonia, eau de luce, or even brandy, will speedily relieve these.
Your well-known anxiety to supply our numerous out- station readers with any information that can be of service to them, is my apology, Mr. Editor, for again troubling you on this subject.
A. W. B.