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Electric shock as first aid for poisonous bites

Electric shock as first aid for poisonous bites

Date:   7/1/2012 2:35:20 PM   ( 10 y ) ... viewed 6719 times

electric shock as first aid for poisonous bites by  Newport  3 year  4,294  Dr. Beck / Zapper Sup / Electro-Me


I received the following account of scorpion bites from Don and JoAnn Mansfield in Mali. Don works in agriculture; JoAnn runs the clinic.

"The missionary I replaced had told me how to treat scorpion stings with a pair of `electric shockers.' Frankly I did not believe it. Three weeks after we arrived a woman we knew came to the clinic. She had been stung on the side of her foot by a BIG scorpion of the kind that are common here. She was bent over with pain. We had nothing but an antihistamine, which did not help. I told her about the shock treatment. She was in so much pain that she was willing to try anything.

"We could not find the equipment my predecessor had told me about, but we did have a Briggs and Stratton power plant. I put the metal portion of the spark plug wire right on the spot where she had been stung, and had someone pull the rope. She jerked, but kept on moaning, hardly noticing the shock. The second pull had the same result. After the third pull she immediately straightened up, stopped moaning and began to leave. I stopped her and asked about the pain. She had none.

"In the next couple years we treated 4 or 5 more people similarly. In one case, where the sting was in a difficult spot to shock, there was still pain although it was a lot better. The others had total relief from pain, sometimes with one pull. None took more than three pulls."

Research into treating poisonous bites with electric shock began with Dr. Ron Guderian, a missionary in Ecuador, wondering about a widespread notion in Ecuador that electricity was therapeutic for snakebite. We wrote to Dr. Guderian for an update. A summary of his comments follow:

"In the laboratory we are trying to determine how the electric shock actually deactivates the venom, or what protein components the shock affects and how. This would give us the scientific basis to say how the shock works, not just that it appears to on trial." [The electric field changes the three-dimensional structure of the toxin, converting the venom to inert material. The shock eliminates the venom's biological activity.]

"We have been using the electric shock as a first aid measure for snake bites in Ecuador since 1980 and have found some very interesting results. If the shock treatment is given at the site of the bite and in an appropriate time frame, there is no reaction on the part of the person bitten." Shock has been used as first aid on the venomous bites of Portuguese men-of-war, Conga ants, scorpions, spiders, and even poison oak. It is used for snakes with hemotoxic venom which destroys blood cells and coagulation proteins, and does not have the same action on neurotoxic snakes (such as the cobra, mamba, and coral snakes).

"In the past two months we have treated several patients who have come to us 4-6 hours after being bitten. The site of the bite and surrounding tissues were edematous [Ed: in other words, venom had definitely been injected]. Having no other resource, the electric shock was given on the chance that it might help in some manner [Ed: Even though shock treatment is normally done much sooner than 4-6 hours]. To our surprise, the swelling decreased and in three days the site of the bite and surrounding tissues were normal. Without treatment, swelling usually increases and can last for weeks. The reduction is important because swelling causes much of the secondary complications from snake bites." In addition, the shock kills the anaerobic bacteria present in the bite which can lead to tissue death on the site.

THIS IS ONLY FOR USE IN REMOTE LOCATIONS WHERE ANTI-VENOM IS NOT AVAILABLE. "To answer your question, yes, shock should be used only if anti-venom is not available. Shock is not used along with anti-venom, nor in place of it. I have recorded 353 reports [by 1995] of the use of electrical shock with positive results."

TECHNICAL DETAILS. NEVER USE CURRENT FROM THE POWER COMPANY OR ALTERNATING CURRENT FROM YOUR OWN GENERATORS! "You need a DC pulsating electric current, 20-25 Kv and only milliamps of current. [An AC current can affect the heart; DC does not.] The best source of shock that we have found is the spark plug of an auxiliary gas motor such as a chain saw, motorcycle or outboard motor. Shock can also be applied directly from the coil of a car. Again let me say that this is experimental. The most important concept is that the patient be treated as soon as possible, preferably within 10-20 minutes. Otherwise permanent tissue damage may have already occurred.

"Most snake bites occur on the limbs. Ground the limb on the side opposite the bite. Hold the electrodes in place with tape as contact is otherwise broken during the discharge. Apply the shock directly to the bite for 2 seconds, rest and repeat 2-3 times depending on the size of the snake." [Don Stilwell with SIM sent us a summary of a conversation with Dr. Guderian saying that the larger and more potent the snake and the more venom injected, the more shocks may be necessary, even up to eight discharges.]

To be effective, the skin should be washed (with alcohol, if available) and dried; sweat is a good conductor. Ground the plate on the opposite side of the bite and apply the shock on the bite marks for best penetration of the skin (skin is very resistant, and 15,000-20,000 volts are needed to penetrate it). After this first aid is applied, send the patient to a medical center for evaluation. They should take 2 cc's of blood and put it in a clear tube undisturbed for 20 minutes. Tilt after 20 minutes; if a clot has formed, the patient should be fine. Repeat this test every 6 hours for 48 hours, and if clots still form, the patient may go home. If clots do not form, give antivenom; this may be necessary if treatment is delayed.

Dr. Guderian requests that, if you use this method, please keep a record of patients treated and note the type and location of bite, type of snake, time elapse between bite and treatment, source for current and patient's response. "Since we are still collecting data to prove that this method works in other parts of the world, I would appreciate receiving any such data." His address is Hospital Vozandes, HCJB Casilla 17-17-691, Quito, ECUADOR, South America; fax 593-2-447-263; e-mail ECHO would like to know your results too

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