Dangerous encounter

Today our men killed a Barba Amarilla (Terciopelo Lanceter). Colleague Elmer was already bitten by a barba and was then hospitalized for 4 months.

The Terciopelo Lanceter is very large with a body length of more than two meters, moves very fast and is extremely poisonous. It is responsible for the majority of poisoning by snake bites and annually for numerous deaths. Many patients who survive the bite remain severely impaired by severe tissue destruction and limb loss.

Bothrops asper (lat. name) is very easily excitable. If the snake is disturbed it moves very quickly, changes abruptly the direction and tries to bite. If it is illuminated with a torch in the dark, it looks for cover, but then often returns to the place of the disturbance. During the day, when somebody approaches, she does not flee, but relies on her excellent camouflage and remains motionless. Only when a certain distance is gone below or the snake is touched it bites quickly. Therefore many people notice the snake only in the moment when they are bitten. Before the attack the serpent straightens up, that is why most people are bitten above the knee.

The poison contains tissue-destroying enzymes, especially phospholipase A2 as well as strongly protein-degrading metalloproteinases. Typical local symptoms are, above all, severe pain, redness, and swelling, which very quickly spread to the entire bitten limb and the adjacent trunk, as well as small or large bubbles containing clear or bloody serous fluid. Frequently, severe necrosis, especially muscle tissue, is produced. In the case of treatment that is not performed too late, the affected limbs often have to be amputated because of necrosis. In case of timely treatment, often affected areas are surgically restored. Other dysplasias are functional limitations or loss due to muscle atrophy, permanent muscle shortening and paralysis of peripheral nerves. The poison acts haemolytically and by hemorrhagic metalloproteinases (destroying blood vessels). It causes a change in the blood clotting precursor fibrinogen by thrombin-like enzymes (TLEs) and thereby a pathological activation of the blood coagulation. This results in further steps for the rapid consumption of the coagulation factors and therefore has anti-coagulants. The syndrome is called disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC). The patients bleed from the spot, from not yet healed scars, mosquito bites and mouth mucous membranes and there is internal bleeding. Apparently the poison affects also directly toxic on the kidneys. With pregnant women the bites frequently lead to spontaneous miscarriages. Additional complications arise from infections caused by the bacterial fauna contained in the mucous membranes of the snake. The most frequent causes of death are acute renal failure, cerebral hemorrhage and blood poisoning.

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