Australia

Queensland man dies after eastern brown snake bite

The eastern brown snake, one of Australia's deadliest. Source: AAP

A man was trying to ascertain what sort of snake he had been bitten by when he collapsed and died in north Queensland.

A north Queensland man has died after being bitten on the arm by an eastern brown, with neighbours saying he was holding the reptile and asking what species it was before collapsing. 

Paramedics were called to a property at Deeragun in Townsville about 5.20pm on Thursday.

Neighbours had already started giving the man - aged in his 40s - CPR when they arrived, but he died at the scene.

Brett Boggs was one of the people who tried to revive the man.

"It was pretty hard, it was scary at the time, I didn't really have time to think about it. Just had to do it," he told the ABC.

Mr Boggs said the man had come to his home to ask him what type of snake it was.

"He had it in his hands - I wasn't entirely sure - it was brown so it looked like a brown snake to me," he said.

"I said, 'I'm pretty sure it's poisonous'."

Mr Boggs said the man didn't seem too concerned by the bite after someone down the road said it may have been a tree snake, but within a few minutes he heard a woman yelling for help.

It is not known if the snake was alive or dead when he was holding it.

A Townsville Snake Catchers spokesman told AAP it was a 1.5m eastern brown, which is one of Australia's deadliest snakes.

Brown snake bites are fatal because the venom spreads quickly and people are sometimes not even aware that they have been bitten, Associate Professor Naren Gunja, a clinical toxicologist at Westmead, previously told the ABC. 

Statistics released by the National Coronial Information Service in March 2017 also show 35 people died as a result of a snake bite between 2000 and 2016.

The eastern brown was responsible for 23, or 65 per cent, of those deaths.

At the time of its release, co-author Dr Ronelle Welton, from the University of Melbourne's Australian Venom Research Unit, said one-fifth of fatalities occurred when people tried to pick up the snakes.

"People should not attempt to pick up snakes, and need to be encouraged to practice appropriate first aid and know CPR," she said.

Townsville Snake Take Away's Jamie Chapel also took to Facebook on Friday to urge people to be careful around the reptiles.

"If you're ever bitten by a snake or suspect you have been, never wait, call an ambulance and never try to kill the snake, it's not worth losing yours or someone else's life over," he wrote.

"No snake is ever harmless, it's either venomous or non-venomous and any snake that feels threatened will bite in defence, do not take the chance, call a snake catcher."

Mr Chapel also said everyone should have some awareness of general, or snake, first aid and CPR, as it could save a life.

 

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