|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – November 2009
Though we love backcountry wildlife (well, mostly), sometimes we get no love back. Read up on what to do when Mother Nature bites.
These bloodsuckers can transmit disease if allowed to embed in the skin (sometimes a few hours is all it takes), so check yourself twice a day. Found one? Remove it immediately with tweezers. Grasp the tick at skin level, perpendicular to the long axis of the tick, and pull it gently straight out. Wash the site. If illness and/or an unusual rash develop, consult a doctor.
Black widow bites can be tough to diagnose (many victims don't feel the bite when it occurs). Look for vomiting, weakness, headache, fever, and intense abdominal and/or back pain. Brown recluse bites might sting or itch. For both, clean the wound, apply cold to the site, and give the patient an antihistamine (for itching) and ibuprofen for pain. Hike out to a doctor (don't worry: death is rare).
First, keep the victim calm (a low heart rate minimizes venom circulation, and death from snakebite is unlikely). Remove jewelry, watches, and any snug clothing that could cut off circulation when the bite site swells. Splint the bitten arm or leg, but do not elevate it. Carry the victim out if you can; otherwise, have him slowly walk out for a dose of antivenin.