Nine people have been treated by paramedics or hospitalised after being bitten by snakes across Queensland in a 36-hour period.
Among those was a woman in her 30s who was fighting for her life after being bitten on the ankle while walking along a track at Agnes Waters, near Gladstone, about 3:00pm this afternoon.
A man in his late 30s was also in a serious condition after being bitten by an eastern brown snake at a property near Yeppoon about 5:00pm.
The spate of attacks began in the state’s far north yesterday when a 57-year-old woman was transported to Atherton Hospital after being bitten by a snake in her house.
Within hours, two adults and a child also presented to Atherton Hospital after being bitten in separate incidents.
In the state’s south-east today, another four people were bitten by snakes at locations from Gladstone to the Darling Downs.
A 13-year-old boy was taken to Nambour Hospital in a stable condition after being bitten on the leg at Woombye on the Sunshine Coast just after midday.
An 18-month-old baby was bitten on the forearm at a property in Helidon and transported to the Toowoomba Hospital in a stable condition.
On Erub Island in the Torres Strait, paramedics treated one adult for a snake bite just after 1:00pm.
A swimmer was also transported to hospital after being stung on the face by a potentially dangerous jellyfish near Tangalooma.
Heat, floods driving snakes from their natural habitats
Bryan Fry, from the University of Queensland’s school of biological sciences, said many factors could be leading to increased interactions with snakes.
“Normally when it gets warm, the snakes will be on the move, but now it’s boiling hot in many areas so the snakes will be trying to seek refuge,” he said.
“Another factor is in some areas they’ve had huge amounts of rain so the snakes would have been flooded out of their natural refuges and trying to seek higher ground, which is likely to be someone’s house.”
He said the best way to help a patient was to keep them calm and get to professional medical help as soon as possible.
“If the person gets hysterical and they start running around, they’re going to move the blood around faster and obviously the venom effects are going to kick in that much quicker,” Dr Fry said.
“Never ever put a tourniquet on but apply proper pressure bandage and immobilisation.”
Dr Fry said the number of snake bites in Australia paled in comparison to rates around the world.
“We’re talking about a vast geographical range, through an area where there’s a lot of snakes in peak season,” he said.
“But to put this in perspective, someone is bitten in India every five minutes and someone dies in India every eight minutes.”