Use a Sawyer Extractor for Snake and Insect Bites

The Sawyer Extractor is the best first aid application for poisonous snake bites as well as insect bites and stings.  The Extractor is a venom suction system that removes the venom from the victims bloodstream.  The Sawyer Extractor system is also reusable and a definite must have for your Bug Out Bag or other survival gear.

While it is prominently known as a first aid measure for a dangerous snake bite, it is equally effective for relief from mosquito bites or bee stings.

Karambit Knife

Snake bites are a definite threat in a survival situation and a hospital may not be available, you are going to need all of the help you can get.

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From Sawyer:

The Extractor Pump ® Vacuum was designed specifically to provide the most powerful suction available for the safe extraction of venoms and poisons.

Because its Double Chamber Pump action is so powerful you will not need to use the dangerous scalpel blades or knives associated with less effective bite kits. Because it’s a Pump and not a Syringe, it’s easy to use with one hand.

Simply select which of the four plastic cups best covers the bitten area, attach it to the pump, then a simple push of the plunger with your thumb and the Extractor Pump® will quickly and effectively remove venoms and poisons from below your skin. By simply cleaning the cups after each use you may safely reuse the pump over and over again.

Obviously trying to suck the venom out of someones leg, or trying to “bleed them out” is a terrible idea and will do nothing but hurt the victim more. With such a great tool available there is no reason not to have several in your gear.

Specs

The kit comes in a small plastic box that is  5×3 and weighs only 4.8 ounces. They usually run anywhere from 15-25 dollars, but since the system is reusable it is a worthwhile investment. Amazon has the kit for $15.

You can read more about snake bites and uses for the Sawyer Extractor in their Bite and Sting Pamplet (PDF).

Do you have an outdated blade snake bite kit that needs replacing?

55 thoughts on “Use a Sawyer Extractor for Snake and Insect Bites”

  1. I've really enjoyed your website and it's got a lot of great information. However, I would encourage you to research the true effectiveness of this product. I carried one of these in my first aid kit for years, but was told by an MD specializing in wilderness medicine in a wilderness EMT course that it doesn't work.
    This prompted me to do a little research and it seems the MD was correct. There was an experiment published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine (Volume 43, Issue 2, Pages 181-186) which reports that only 2% of total injected venom is removed, which they described as "clinically insignificant". The rest of the fluid seen in the "cup" comes from the patients bodily fluids (blood, plasma, etc.). The report went on to further state that it could increase soft tissue damage, as well as waste valuable time that could be spent on more effective proven treatments.

    Reply
    • Could you be so kind as to list "more effective proven treatments". So far I've not heard of any! All I hear are the basic ones that wouldn't do much of anything.

      Reply
      • Applying pressure to a snakebite won't do any good, and won't take the venom out of your body. Oh yes theres no ice in the wilderness, unless its winter time.

        Reply
  2. I've really enjoyed your website and it's got a lot of great information. However, I would encourage you to research the true effectiveness of this product. I carried one of these in my first aid kit for years, but was told by an MD specializing in wilderness medicine in a wilderness EMT course that it doesn't work.
    This prompted me to do a little research and it seems the MD was correct. There was an experiment published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine (Volume 43, Issue 2, Pages 181-186) which reports that only 2% of total injected venom is removed, which they described as "clinically insignificant". The rest of the fluid seen in the "cup" comes from the patients bodily fluids (blood, plasma, etc.). The report went on to further state that it could increase soft tissue damage, as well as waste valuable time that could be spent on more effective proven treatments.

    Reply
  3. (Continued – Wouldn't let me put it all in one comment)

    I only have a print copy of that article (I'm sure you can find it online, but have included below the link to another source, the Journal of Emergency Nursing, that mentions the same thing. Both of these sources are peer-reviewed and therefore trustworthy.
    http://www.jenonline.org/article/PII…9909X/full…
    True, it is small and light, so there’s not much drawback to carrying it, but medically, you're probably better off minimizing movement, and applying ice (if available) and pressure and trying to find some sort of definitive medical care.
    Sorry to be a pain!
    Chandler Getz

    Reply
    • Chandler,

      First, thanks for following the site!

      Secondly, thanks for your insightful comment. You are not being a pain, and I want reader to tell us things like this so we are no recommending bad gear. You have to keep me honest.

      While I have not read those clinical reports myself I have heard about them.

      I am certainly not a doctor so I can't really weigh in, however from experience I do know that whatever the studies say the extractor does wonders for mosquito, bee, and wasp stings. Fortunately I have never had to use it on a snake bite.

      Finally, the Sawyer company is aware of these studies and they take issue with some of the conclusions drawn. Is that just to protect their product? Maybe, but they have some valid points.

      I will post their response below.

      Thanks again,

      Lucas

      Reply
  4. Reponse from the Sawyer Company regarding clinical studies of their product:

    from here: http://www.sawyerproducts.com/controversy.htm

    "We would like to make you aware of the origins of the controversy regarding the effectiveness of the Extractor Pump® Kit. Several years ago, there was a study conducted which questioned the effectiveness of the Extractor. Unfortunately, the conclusions drawn from the study significantly exceeded the actual data. Let us explain to you what the proper conclusions from the study should have been, what we did learn, and what should not have been over concluded in a subject that is very difficult to study, snake bites.

    In the study, a pig was injected with venom in each thigh. On one thigh they applied the pump for several hours. On the other thigh nothing was done. First they concluded that the swelling on both legs was equal, and therefore, the pump must not have removed venom. Secondly, by leaving the pump on so long the pig developed blood blisters. No necropsy (animal autopsy) was conducted to examine difference in internal damage which may have supported benefits of the pump’s usage.

    Understanding how a body reacts to an invasion, one should expect to see equal swelling. Given the relative large amounts of venom injected at each site, the body would send fluids whether or not the pump removed venom. The body wouldn't send more to one thigh than the other because it had 10%, 20%, 30% … more venom than the other, both sites had a large amount of venom injected and the body fought them both.

    Secondly, leaving the pump on for several hours (we recommend 10 to 15 minutes) should leave a blood blister. Even without an envenomation the pump can give you a heck of a hickey. However at 10 to 15 minutes the pump would remove whatever it is going to get, and any surface damage heals easily compared to structural damage. Ten to 15 minutes is the medical recommendation.

    Lastly, few snake bites actually occur in large muscle mass areas such as a thigh or calf muscle. Most are in the extremities (hand, feet, and ankles) where venom is more easily retrieved."

    Reply
  5. This has suddenly become something of a hobby of mine and I've been doing a lot of reading on snake bite treatment and the pathophysiology of various venoms. The company does indeed make valid points regarding this particular study. I reviewed this and agree that swelling is a poor way to evaluate the effectiveness. However, the article I quoted in the Annals of Emergency Medicine used an inactive, venom-like substance, marked with a radioactive marker so that it could be distinguished from other fluids, and did this on live, human patients. Basically, they used a snake fang-like syringe to inject a known amount of this substance into people's legs, then tried to use the extractor to suck it back out. They then analyzed the fluids obtained, and determined, using the radioactive marker, what percentage of the obtained fluid was the injected "venom." They found only 2% of the volume of the substance injected was actually recovered.

    As for bug bites, the studies seem to support that it does work (Better than Benadryl though?)

    Verdict: Good for bugs, not for snakes?

    Reply
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      Reply
  6. I can't say anything as to the efficacy of this for bee stings and bug bites but yeah, as far as snake bites go it's a waste of time/money. Snakes that are deadly to humans can inject the venom deep enough that 1) the extractor isn't going to do a good job of sucking it out and 2) it allows the venom to travel through the body very fast meaning that most of it will be dispersed before you can even get the suction device in place and working. Sucking out snake venom (or any venom really) is a complete myth. The only thing you can really do is keep the limb of the bite lowered, calm down as much as possible and get anti-venom as soon as possible.

    Frankly in a situation where anti-venom cannot be obtained in a timely manner you're pretty much screwed unless you get lucky and the bite did not inject enough venom to kill you.

    The best thing to do is not approach any snakes you see, wear high hiking boots and pay attention to where you're walking. Most people who get bitten are either unaware of their surrounds and do not see the snake or are stupid and approach the snake and try to catch it or touch it. It's also not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the species in your area, of the 50 US states only three do not have native venomous species(Alaska, Maine and Hawaii).

    Reply
  7. I can't say anything as to the efficacy of this for bee stings and bug bites but yeah, as far as snake bites go it's a waste of time/money. Snakes that are deadly to humans can inject the venom deep enough that 1) the extractor isn't going to do a good job of sucking it out and 2) it allows the venom to travel through the body very fast meaning that most of it will be dispersed before you can even get the suction device in place and working. Sucking out snake venom (or any venom really) is a complete myth. The only thing you can really do is keep the limb of the bite lowered, calm down as much as possible and get anti-venom as soon as possible.

    Frankly in a situation where anti-venom cannot be obtained in a timely manner you're pretty much screwed unless you get lucky and the bite did not inject enough venom to kill you.

    The best thing to do is not approach any snakes you see, wear high hiking boots and pay attention to where you're walking. Most people who get bitten are either unaware of their surrounds and do not see the snake or are stupid and approach the snake and try to catch it or touch it. It's also not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the species in your area, of the 50 US states only three do not have native venomous species(Alaska, Maine and Hawaii).

    Reply
  8. Well, after reading all the comments, I think the next logical questions is; if it doesn't work, what will? Now, a little tidbit I read in Field and Stream years ago said that in the continental US, the two main species we have to worry about are the Copperhead and Rattlesnake (Timber and Diamond Back). The article said the the Copperhead was the easiest to strike but was less likely to give a fatal bite (less potent venom and a more common dry bite). Though this isn't necessarily license to relax, its just a thought to keep if bitten, to help keep a victim calm. But back to the question at hand, in a SHTF situation, how can you combat a bite, is there anti-venom a civilian can stock up on, or other methods to increase survival? I don't ever plan to try it, but old-times used to give moonshine to bite victims, their logic being the 'shine thinned the blood so much and burned so hot in the brain the venom would be diluted enough to be processed with minimal damage. Also, what about spider bites, which I assume would actually be more common in wooded areas (I.E. The Black Widow and Brown Recluse). Is there a treatment for them?

    Reply
    • Black Widows are unlikely to kill you. There is no antivenom that I know of, and most hospitals will give you morphine so you are not awake to feel the terrible effects it has. With the Brown Recluse, you won’t die because if the venom, but it will kill a lot of tissue (even some bone) and will need to be cut out after it has run its course. The most likely thing to kill you is an infection caused by the weakened immune system and dead tissue. I’m not a doctor, but I grew up surrounded by these nasties and had to deal with them on more than one occasion.

      Reply
  9. I'm pretty sure you can buy anti-venom, but it's really expensive (since it's so hard to produce) and expires every year or so. This would probably be your best bet, but I read somewhere it needs to be administered correctly (which is difficult?) or it could be worse for you than the bite itself.

    Also, even though I've read a lot about these being ineffective, I'm with Lucas on getting rid of that extra 2% (98% poison is better than 100% I suppose).

    I've also read interesting stuff on how hitting yourself with a stun-gun at the point of contact will help save you.

    Also, when hiking (unless hunting), try to take heavy steps as it will alert snakes you're heading their way. Apparently a lot of bites come from people stepping on a snake they didn't notice. I mean, if I was a rattlesnake and I felt something huge coming, I would starting making some noise.

    I suppose the best thing to do would be splurge on the anti-venom and learn how to use it correctly. There's no 2nd chance with fatal bites.

    Reply
  10. I've been doing some research and it appears the electricity thing is a myth too. I agree that even one drop less is better and you have to consider the mental effects of using it. In a panic you'll forget all about the facts and WANT it to work. At least then it will help calm you down, which is the most critical thing when bitten.

    And actually Cory, most all bites come (believe it or not) from people trying to pick up or mess with a snake. I saw a study done on TV years ago where a copperhead was walked next to, stood on, and picked up with a fake hand and the only time it struck was when picked up. Now that's not saying they won't strike when stepped on but right now the numbers are not in favor of that, SIMPLY because there are SO many idiots out there LOL.

    Reply
  11. Matt not to down play how painful a spider bite can be, but on average only 4 people die a year in the U.S. from spider bites. There hasn't been a reported death from a Black Widow bite in the U.S. since 1983. Even before antivenom was created for Black Widows the mortality rate was under 5% and the Brown Recluse is even less then that. So unless you are prone to going in to shock, are a small child, or are very old I wouldn't worry about spiders in this country.

    Reply
  12. Matt not to down play how painful a spider bite can be, but on average only 4 people die a year in the U.S. from spider bites. There hasn't been a reported death from a Black Widow bite in the U.S. since 1983. Even before antivenom was created for Black Widows the mortality rate was under 5% and the Brown Recluse is even less then that. So unless you are prone to going in to shock, are a small child, or are very old I wouldn't worry about spiders in this country.

    Reply
    • Bear in mind with those statistics that this is with hospitals for treatment. Google up some images of Brown Recluse bites, but try to do it on an empty stomach. They can cause necrosis of tissue (some pictures were severe enough that they required skin grafts after treatment). That tissue necrosis could absolutely lead to death via subsequent bacterial infections without medical treatment I would think.

      Try here for some treatment methods from emedicinehealth.com: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/spider_bite_brown_

      Interestingly, they do mention suction and electricity as options to not try. Maybe in this case, due to the tendency of the venom to kill flesh already, creating that pocket of suction could potentially worsen the effect? I don't know for certain, just speculating.

      Reply
      • If you are bitten by a brown recluse, you most likely will not know you were bitten until the venom causes necrosis. Simply wait until it has run its course, cut out the dead flesh with a sterile knife, disinfect with rubbing alcohol or peroxide, fill cavity with gauze, wrap. Keep it clean, sterilize it, and change dressings at least once a day.

        Reply
        • Good lord. Do NOT wash out a wound with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Use sterile water.

          Also, the vast majority of brown recluse bites don't even result in necrosis.

          Reply
  13. I know there are a lot of comments here about using the Extractor and related discusssion. I would though like to add my "two cents" here for what it's worth. There are several comments on here that are good information, and some that are not very helpful. Let me start by saying that I have been studying reptiles for more than 40 years, especially venomous snakes. My wife and I ran the Las Cruces Reptile Rescue here in New Mexico for 7 years. We were able to help change/develop the EMT protocol for the treatment of snakebites here in Las Cruces. Previously the standard was for any EMT or emergency personnel to tourniquet any snake bite that occurred prior to transporting to hospital. (continued)

    Reply
  14. Seeing as the only venomous snakes in our area are rattlesnakes that are mainly hemotoxic ( as well as the entire lower 48 of the U.S., with the exception of the Coral Snake), I knew this didn't make sense, and was actually downright dangerous. Using an extractor or a tourniquet will actually localize the hemotoxin of a snakebite, keeping the venom near the site of the bite. This places the bite victim at a significantly greater risk of having to have an appendage amputated due to severe tissue/muscle damage to the limb from the hemotoxin. It is far safer to allow the venom to circulate and dilute, rather than localize.

    Reply
  15. Also, the remote possibility of removing 1% to 2% of the venom from the bite area pales in comparison to the fact that the increase in risk of the loss of a limb due to localization of the venom is estimated at 25-45%. 1 to 2% difference in the amount of venom isn't going to make any noticable difference in light of the fact that only 1/2 of 1% of snakebite victims in the USA die annualy, and that is out of an average of 8,000 bites every year. The best thing to do is seek immediate medical treatment, but if you're in a position of not being able to seek medical treatment, the best thing to do then is simply remain as calm as possible, and keep the affected limb even with the heart if possible. Do not use alcohol (medicinal or otherwise) and do not attempt electrical "treatment" of the bite. Both can make the situation far worse.

    Reply
  16. More articles on first aid prepping would be a great service . Med/first aid planning is one of the most important things , but also one of the most difficult to decide on what is really needed and in what quantity , especially for the beginner with no military training .

    Reply
  17. Hi all. I just wanted to make a few comments on the safety and efficacy of venom extractors. First, let me say I've been studying reptiles, specifically venomous species, for about six years. The most prevalent snakes in the United States are the Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and the Rattlesnake (genera Crotalus and Sistrurus). Copperhead bites are almost never life-threatening, with only two recorded cases of death in American history, all of which involved envenomations from multiple snakes. A. contortrix also has a primarily hemotoxic venom, which causes severe bleeding. In this instance, use of a sawyer extractor would cause more harm than good, owing to more blood loss.

    In the case of rattlesnakes, it's a slightly different story. North American Rattlesnakes have varying degrees of toxicity, but all have venom which is primarily hemotoxic. Again, this will cause blood loss. Using a tourniquet on the limb can also cause more damage, as the venom stays concentrated to that limb, causing necrosis.

    Also, venom is spread by the lymphatic system, not the blood. Any attempt to remove venom from the blood is ultimately futile.

    Antivenin is the only effective treatment for a venomous snake bite. However, it has a shelf life of only two years, and usually must be refrigerated, except in the case of CroFab and other 2nd generation antivenins. It must be administered via an infusion pump at a rate of no more than 1ml/min, and there must be a support team in place, as antivenin can cause serum sickness, or worse, anaphylactic shock.

    In other words, the best field treatment for a snake bite is to get the victim to immediate medical attention. If that is impossible, keep them calm, administer fluids, and manage the pain.

    Reply
  18. I worked in a Florida ER for 8 years and never heard of any effective treatment given to a snake bite victim before they got to us and our stocks of anti-venin. Honestly, we just didn't get many injuries of that sort and I don't recall any deaths from them.

    What we DID get a lot of was spider/insect bites, jellyfish stings, animal bites/scratches and once in a great while a stingray… um… sting. Out of all those things, the biggest problem by far was infection (from the environment, not the toxins).

    I got a Sawyer kit in my 1st aid bag (personal use, not professional) but for insect bites not snake bites. It's not that I believe in them, so much as, I try to keep an open mind and wait for research results and to hear experiences from others.

    Reply
  19. The best treatment is prevention, good high top boots and a good pair of gators wil prevent bites to the ankles and calves, as far as bites on hands go keep them out of harms way. If your bug out area is wilderness or desert a good walking staff is a great tool, use it to push brush out of the way or to check obvious snake hideing spots.

    Reply
  20. I have this kit and it seemed to be "to good to be true" when I had purchased it. I figured for the relatively low price tag and little to no other measures that good be taken at a minimum the psychological benefit of administering it to someone who has just been bitten and terrified can actually cause a physiological reaction by slowing the heart rate and blood flow. In some cases this could be useful for venom that does use arterial passageways.

    Reply
  21. I bought a sawyer a while back but from research, I dont think I would use it for a snake bite. Maybe for a spider bite. What I have found, is if possible, get medical treatment, but for those of us that might be in a bug out senerio or hunting or just out walking, is first get away from the damn snake, and always carry a pouch a activated charcoal and pack the bitten area, snake spider bee wasp ect., with weted activated charcoal,( should use some sort of medium to hold it together either water,wont hold together but works, corn starch or even vasoline,) and change every 2 hours. It wont stop any venom already in your system but will absorb any venom in the bite area. This is not a put on and walk away, you still need to stay calm, like other experts have said, but will help more than the sawyer. Works wonders with posions and more. This is in my home and bug out packs. No one should be without.

    Reply
    • I prefer wet tobacco as it has the added affect of calming the person down and slowing heart rate, lowering blood pressure et cetera

      Reply
  22. I would have to say that to me, prevention is more important than treatment. High boots with pant legs tucked in prevent exposed skin, decreasing risk of biting. Also, as an idea, I have experience with chainmail. A thin, fine-ringed chainmail would sufficiently stop a snake's fang from penetration. Also, chainmail has many other applications besides. Chainmail gloves are also available. In fact, meat packing companies use them to protect the hands of employees from sharp blades.

    Reply
  23. Basically, creating a really fine-ringed maille sleeve for the calves, some gloves, and you are basically covering all of the most vunerable places on your body with an armor that is resistant to puncture wounds (also useful against any sort of animal that might go for a bite), and against slash wounds (also useful against animals). Another factor to keep in mind is that really fine maille is as supple as a fabric, and really strong. A talent at maille-weaving could come in handy in any survival situation.

    Reply
  24. I have lived in the Southwest US for a long time, I make my living teaching desert survival and have first hand experience with too many snake bites – bottom line, these suction doo-dads are useless, in fact they usually are more harm than good. Currently we teach not only to not "cut and suck", but also that electrical stimulation and cold packs are out.

    A wide, snug wrap proximal of the bite is good to slow the lymphatic system, but not tight enough to be a TQ, the SWAT-T works great, so does a regular old ace wrap. – keep the bite lower than the heart – calm the person and move to medical care. Period. Long Break. Out.

    Reply
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    Reply
  26. Fascinating conversation. After stepping on a 3 foot rattler and stepping 1 inch away from a 9 bead 2 footer in one day on a canyon scramble, I figured I should do some research. My vibrams are officially replaced with some tough ankle high boots, and yes, I realize how lucky I was.

    Funny thing is, neither snake struck at me, or gave me the warning rattle.

    Reply
  27. I’m not familiar with a sawyer extractor use in a snake bite situation personally. However, after 20 plus years of nursing experience, advanced practice nursing training, and many human phisiology, chemistry, and pharmacology classes; I would rather take my chances with 50mg of Benadryl and 150 mg of Zantac orally after a snakebite. Most of the damage from snake venom is due to histamine release from mast cells within the body. Histamine release is a major part of the human bodies reaction to anaphylactic shock. Benadryl is a H-1 receptor blocker and Zantac is an H-2 receptor blocker. Blocking these receptors helps prevent anaphylactic shock. Both are readily available over the counter. And, if you go to an ER for medical treatment of a snakebite, chances are these medications are the first thing you will receive. Along with epinephrine, IV fluids etc. Just a cheap alternative that can easily be placed in your bug out bag.

    Reply
  28. Use something that will draw the poison out like a chew of tobacco, cooked oats, raw potato scraped and onions scraped. It workes. When I was a kid I cut my foot by steping on a sharp hoe. All that was done for me was to put cooked oats wraped in cheese cloth and changed twice a day. Two weeks later I was healed up.

    Reply
  29. Something to use for poisonous snake bites: activated charcoal. I have heard of several occasions of people applying this and it working well, both with snakes as well as brown recluse bites. It absorbs the poison. Mix the powder with water and apply to the area. In severe cases, keep changing the charcoal mix every 15 minutes. You can take it internally as well, mixed in water. (Too much can tend to constipate you, drink extra water). Its worth researching. We use it for all kinds of poisonings (including food poisoning). It can absorb 3000 known poisons and drug residues. Great stuff to have in an emergency kit. My friend who got a bite from a brown recluse didn’t have the typical tissue death, and it healed up quickly.

    Reply
  30. Do yourself a favor and read this review : (I am splitting it in a few parts since the system doesn't allow long posts)

    Part 1
    THESE ARE DANGEROUS FOR SNAKEBITES! Only effective for removing botfly larvae…Reviewed by a snakebite specialist
    By Jordan Benjamin on May 17, 2014
    Hello,

    My name is Jordan Benjamin, I am a herpetologist specializing in venomous snakes and a wilderness medicine practitioner with experience treating many snakebite patients in West and East Africa, most of them in remote health centers that pose some of the same challenges as treatment of a snakebite in the wilderness or backcountry environment in the US (supplies are limited or non-existent, the patient has a long way to go to reach a hospital, etc). I have also been fortunate to have the opportunity to train a number of individuals and groups in snakebite medicine and field management of snake envenomations in remote conditions including medical officers and corpsmen with the US military, local & international doctors and nurses in African hospitals, wildlife rangers, etc. I am including my background and real name because this issue is important to me and I stand by everything I am about to write; I want to give you all the peace of mind that I am who I say I am and not some competing company throwing out baseless accusations behind the cloak of online anonymity. Feel free to look me up online, I gave a TEDx talk on the issue of snakebite in sub-Saharan Africa last year and I invite those who doubt my identity or simply want to learn more about the issue of snakebite in the developing world to check it out. Moving on to the review…

    Reply
  31. Part 2
    The short answer to the question of whether or not the Sawyer Extractor can effectively remove venom from the site of the bite is a resounding no: the Sawyer Extractor and all of the other "snakebite kit" variations employing suction, incisions, electricity, heat, cold, and so forth have been repeatedly shown to be utterly ineffective at the job they are designed and marketed to accomplish. They simply do not work! The caveat it that there is one clever application of the sawyer that has been proven to work great, which is for the removal of flesh-eating botfly larvae that can be acquired in various tropical regions of the world…see "Simple and effective field extraction of human botfly, Dermatobia hominis, using a venom extractor" […]. I am afraid to say that at the moment that is the only medical situation where this device may possibly prove helpful. When it comes to snakebites, it is not only completely ineffective at removing venom from tissue following a snakebite, but may actually prove harmful and cause a serious local necrosis (think in terms of a cookie-cutter style wound forming a deep cylinder of rotting dead tissue under the site of application). This may be due to a concentration of residual cytotoxic and myotoxic venoms near the site of the bite, while the majority of the venom will continue to diffuse into systemic circulation – but since we really don't know exactly why this happens that is purely speculation. For any interested parties, the article demonstrating this is titled: "Effects of a negative pressure venom extraction device (Extractor) on local tissue injury after artificial rattlesnake envenomation in a porcine model." I am attaching a link to the article here: […]
    There are probably several reasons why this type of first aid does not work. One issue is that the recurved fangs of vipers penetrate and inject venom deeply into the tissues beneath the skin, and the tunnel created when a fang penetrates the skin immediately collapses as soon as the fang is withdrawn. Another issue is that large quantities of venom are believed to diffuse very rapidly into different tissue compartments. This means that there is no direct route between the visible puncture marks on the surface to the area where venom was injected, and the significant quantity of venom is already well on its way. I have read the company's testimonials and seen the occasional news stories about a snakebite victim "whose life was saved by the Sawyer Extractor" or similar device, and all too often that is a quote attributed to the physician who treated them. I don't doubt the veracity of the quote as deeply entrenched myths and misinformation about snakes and snakebite are unfortunately as common in doctors as they are in the rest of society at this time. The sawyer extractor is popular because it provides us with an intuitively sound solution to the terrifying prospect of suffering a snakebite far from medical care, suddenly rendered utterly helpless as the venom takes effect and all we (or our loved ones) can do is wait and watch as the venom takes over. It is nothing more than a modern variation of the infamous "black stone" from Asia and Africa, a charred piece of cow bone that is stuck to the site of the snakebite and remains there absorbing fluid until all the venom has been drawn out of the bite whereupon it suddenly detaches and falls to the ground, is boiled or washed in milk to cleanse it of the venom, and ready to go when the next snakebite happens. Both of them provide the perfect optical illusion by visibly extracting some quantity of blood and straw-colored fluid (which looks incredibly similar to many viper venoms) from the site of the bite, but this is nothing more than the pale-yellow plasma (whats left after you remove the red cells and clotting components from blood) and other exudate draining from the wound as edema sets in and the venom begins to show effect. If you feel like you have been duped, don't take it personally – the notion that a snakebite can be treated by somehow extracting the venom has successfully fooled us since at least the 1400's, when the black stone was first mentioned as the go-to remedy for treating snake envenomations. Several years ago, a close colleague of mine met a European surgeon who was in Central Africa on a medical mission and explained that he needn't worry about snakebite, because he always carried a black stone with him for such a situation…as you can see, even the most highly educated medical professionals are not immune to the myths that pervade the issue of snakebite. I grew up carrying a sawyer extractor with me whenever I went out to look for snakes and lizards, and no one would be happier to hear that the sawyer extractor did what it claims than those of us who work with snakes and face an incidence of snakebite many times higher than that of the larger population. But the reality is that these devices do not work for snakebites, and marketing them for that purpose is a dangerous action with potentially tragic consequences. Evidence-based medicine and all studies to date suggest that they are at best ineffective and at worst harmful. If you would like to see more evidence of this, check out:

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  32. Part 3
    "Snakebite Suction Devices Don’t Remove Venom: They Just Suck" […]
    and

    Suction for Venomous Snakebite: A Study of 'Mock Venom' Extraction in a Human Model" […].

    This product has no business being marketed for use on snakebite. Out of more than 40 snakebite patients I have treated in Africa, 95% of them had already been given bad first aid prior to seeking treatment at the hospital. Practices like cutting at or around the site of the bite, applying tourniquets to the bitten limb, and attempting to extract or neutralize venom using electricity, fire, permanganate, black stones, magic, mouths, mud, dung, leaves, ground up dried snakes, and yes – even fancy suction devices like the Sawyer Extractor – are dangerous and detrimental for two reasons. First, in a snakebite time is tissue and a lot of it is wasted performing bad first aid. Many snakebite patients injure themselves by panicking immediately after the bite, I have seen more than a few individuals who suffered serious traumatic injuries in addition to the snakebite because they took off running from the snake at full speed only to suddenly fall face-first onto a rock or trip and stumble over the edge of a steep embankment. The second issue is that signs of an envenomation may in some cases take hours to appear, and the combination of seeing a useless suction device drawing fluid out of the bite along with a delayed onset of symptoms is an easy way to decide that you don't need medical care after all because you the used extractor less than minute after the bite and saw it remove the venom, or you feel fine and don't want to inconvenience the whole group because you've all been planning this trip for months, or any number of other rationalizations we can make with ourselves to keep from going in to get the bite checked out. The majority of bites from venomous snakes in the United States are suffered by young men between the ages of 18 – 25 who are intoxicated (usually alcohol) and attempting to pick up, kill, or otherwise interact very closely with a potentially deadly snake. This is a demographic that is particularly prone to making the wrong decision about whether they should laugh it off cause they feel okay or should immediately seek medical care for a life-threatening emergency. I have had patients come early after the bite and I have had patients come after great delays, and I have noticed two things. The first is that those who arrive early often do so because they are suffering from a severe envenomation and become very ill very quickly, while those who come late often waited because they believed falsely that the first aid measures taken were sufficient or that they were not seriously envenomated. The second observation is that many of the patients who wait come in when they finally reach their own line in the sand for what constitutes a serious enough problem to go to the hospital, and they often tend to have more complications, longer hospitalizations, and a higher chance that the bite will result in permanent disability because of how long the venom has been allowed to work unchecked. They often arrive in the critical condition with severe envenomations just like the group of severely envenomated patients with the shortest delay to care, but instead of showing up in a critical state of hemorrhagic or hypovolemic shock they arrive in shock with their kidneys failing, or with late-stage bleeding into the brain, meninges, abdominal cavity to compound all of the other symptoms. Late-stage complications can be incredibly difficult to treat, they are excruciatingly painful for patients, heart-wrenching cases for medical personnel, and they are entirely preventable with prompt care. If you are bitten by venomous snake or are unsure as to whether or not the snake is venomous, please, please, please focus on how to get yourself safely to emergency medical care and don't bet your life on any of these commercial snakebite kits. The only effective, definitive treatment for a snake envenomation is the appropriate antivenom to neutralize the venom of the species you were just bit by. I repeat, THE ONLY EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR SNAKE ENVENOMATION IS THE APPROPRIATE ANTIVENOM. Repeat that five times and them move on to some helpful tips on what you actually should do in the event of a snakebite in the middle of nowhere.

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  33. Part 4
    To end this lengthy review on a positive note, there are several things I would suggest you do following a snakebite that are extremely beneficial.

    1. Walk, don't run, and carefully retrace your steps to get out of the immediate vicinity of the snake and avoid the possibility of stepping on any others nearby. 20 or 30 feet should be more than sufficient, the snake wants to get away as much as you do.

    2. Find a safe place to sit down. This is important! Viper venoms in particular contain vasodilating compounds that open up your blood vessels to facilitate rapid diffusion of venom out into systemic circulation, which means you may suddenly suffer a dizzy spell and faint because your blood pressure just dropped too low to pump all the way to your head while you are standing upright. This is relatively common with viper bites and often happens in the first few minutes, so do yourself a favor and sit down so you don't pass out while running and hit your head on a rock. Like I said, you would be surprised…it happens all the time. These are usually brief fainting spells and you stand a good chance of avoiding it altogether by not standing up in a state of abject terror, but if you faint it shouldn't be more than a few minutes before you are cognizant again and I guess if you want to look at the bright side, you just really nailed the whole relaxation part of step 3 and are sort of ahead of the game…but you should repeat step 3 now that you are conscious anyways.

    3. Remove any rings, watches, bangles, anklets, tight clothing, and anything else from the bitten limb because there is a good chance it is going to get a whole lot bigger than it was when you bought that toe ring…Do this because any of these items could potential become a tourniquet when swelling makes them impossible to remove, and that could cost you the limb below whatever is choking off the supply of oxygenated blood. Tourniquets of any sort are not good for snakebite, so please don’t try to tie your shoelaces or belt or anything else above whatever part of you just got bitten. There are somewhere between 5,000 – and 10,000 snake envenomations in the US every year, but most will not suffer any major permanent disability and on average only 5 people will die in a given year (mostly very old, very young, highly allergic, and other high-risk populations). Your odds are quite good, so be grateful you live in the US and make sure you don’t become a (bad) statistic by doing something stupid that makes your situation a whole lot worse than it was already.

    4. Now that you are sitting, take at least 5 minutes to calm down and put your mind to a productive task: planning your evacuation. Time to break out the two items that I highly recommend for a snakebite kit that will help you save your own hide. First up…Do you have a cell phone? Does it have service here? If not, where did it last have a connection? Since the only effective treatment for a snake envenomation is the right antivenom to neutralize it, a working cell phone is your best means of getting information out to the emergency personnel who will do everything in their power to bring you safely out of the field and into the best medical facility for your current predicament. If you can call right away, those 5 minutes you took to calm down are going to prove helpful in relaying key information such as who you are, where you are, what happened, how you are feeling, as well as pertinent information like any other coexisting medical conditions and medications you currently take. If you take any sort of anticoagulants (blood thinners) then that is definitely something you want to inform them of right away, and please folks – DO NOT TAKE ASPIRIN, ADVIL, OR OTHER NSAIDS AFTER A SNAKEBITE. All of those medicines thin your blood, and they can cause very nasty problems for snakebite patients. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is okay, take up to 2x 500mg tablets if you feel the need as it won't interact with the snakebite in any way but don't forget to tell the medics everything you have taken when they get there to avoid being double-dosed.

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  34. Part 6
    The second item I cannot speak highly enough of for snakebites is…drumroll…a sharpie! If you are seriously envenomated, your primary objective right now is to get to the antivenom and get the IV flowing so it can do its job. From a clinical standpoint, there are several things you can keep track of now that will prove immensely beneficial when you reach the hospital and we are assessing the severity of your snakebite to figure out if you need antivenom, how much you need right now if you do, and what other effects the venom is causing so we can treat them with the other drugs we have available and try to make your stay a little more comfortable. Here's how this works. You are going to assess yourself from top to bottom and document significant findings on your person along with the time that you are observing it. Notes can get lost during evacuation or rescue, but your leg is coming with you to the hospital whether you like or not so get ready to mark it up! First thing is to circle the site of the snakebite with the sharpie and write down the time next to it. Draw a circle around the border of the swelling, or if the bite is on a finger or toe then draw a line at the edge of the swelling as it moves up the limb, and once again: write down the time. Write down all of the things that you are experiencing right now that are not normal for you next to or within the circle you just drew – just make sure it’s clear what time you are writing them at. Go through all of your 5 senses and write down everything that is out of place, being sure to include the following:

    Metallic taste in your mouth, changes to sense of smell, sudden loss of vision, double vision, visual disturbances, ringing in the ears, headache, nausea and vomiting, bleeding from anywhere, dizziness, shortness of breath, tremors or twitching or cramping that moves up the bitten limb, pain, numbness, tingling, burning, electric shocks, and all manner of unusual sensations, loss of bowel or bladder control, excessive secretion of saliva/tears/snot/sweat, droopy eyelids that feel heavier and heavier and are hard to open, can’t stick out your tongue at your friends like you could a few minutes earlier, can’t shrug your shoulders, feeling of impending doom, and anything else we might want to know about (if you suddenly believe that you have developed a sixth sense you should probably mention that too).

    Not only do you get to take a break for arts and crafts immediately after your snakebite, but you are also creating a timeline charting the progression of signs and symptoms as they occur and providing the critical information we medical people need to figure out how serious of a bite you are facing and what steps need to be taken to stay on top of a developing situation. In all seriousness, the importance of doing this cannot be overstated, and it is something that you should continually reassess and update every 15 or 30 minutes as the swelling moves up the limb and your symptoms develop. The other great thing about this is that it gives you something to focus on that will play a large part in saving your life and limb, and having a task really does help you to stay calm and get things done. The first few minutes are going to play a large part in how this whole thing turns out, so stay calm and put on your thinking cap.

    5. Try make contact via cell phone if it is easily doable, calm down and carefully assess/document what you find, and if you cannot get in touch with anyone then you need to very carefully think about where you are, how you got there, and what options you have to either get yourself to help or get help to you. I have had patients who walked miles out of the bush after serious snakebites to their legs, they did’t die from exerting themselves like many people fear will happen and they all recovered because they made it out to medical care. You will be much better off walking yourself out, slowly, via the same way you came in than you will be sitting around waiting for help if you couldn’t reach anyone and no one knows you need help. I am not suggesting you skip or do high kicks your whole way out (I think that it would be painful enough that you would be forced to stop doing them before you could do any serious harm), I am suggesting you plan the easiest, most well-travelled route back to civilization, take stock of your supplies and get some food and water in you so you don’t pass out on the way from something preventable like dehydration, watch your footing and move slow and steady to your target destination.

    Remember, the basic principles are pretty simple. Stay calm or get calm, find a place to get yourself together and check your resources, remove constricting bands, document the envenomation, hydrate and nourish, contact help, or make a careful plan to make contact one way or another and get out the word that you need medical assistance. Don’t let fears of “raising your heart rate and increasing the speed of venom circulation” prevent you from physically moving to get to care.

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  35. Part 7
    From what I have seen, the venom is going to get out into circulation regardless of whether or not you sit still for 24 hours or apply a suction device like the sawyer. If you apply a tourniquet you may manage to prevent the venom from traveling out into circulation, but that would be a big mistake to make because you face a very high chance of losing your limb. Don’t put a tourniquet on and unless you fall into one of the high-risk categories discussed earlier, there is a very good chance that you will recover completely following prompt and appropriate treatment at a hospital. And remember folks, when it comes to snakebite no first aid is a whole lot better than bad first aid in the long run! Tell the boy scout to put away the pocketknife, don’t kill your own limb with a tourniquet, don’t listen to the weirdo you pass on the trail who enthusiastically offers to suck the venom out with his mouth or pee into the wound because it saved his friend all those years back…And if you have a sawyer extractor or any of the other varieties, just remember that when it comes to snakebite they really do suck. Show it to someone else and pass on the word that devices like this are more likely to cost you your life or limb than to save it, because folks who are making them have thus far been unwilling to stop making claims about these devices that have been repeatedly debunked by researchers. Don’t throw it away though, because if you ever get a botfly larva under your skin while in the tropics you can seriously impress your friends with the worlds most shocking entomological party trick when you whip out the sawyer botfly extractor and expertly suck out a wriggling maggot from the painful red bump on your backside that it currently calls home. If you read this far, congratulations and thank you for listening.

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  36. Snake bite is dependant on the location and if it is in a vein or artery either causes you do die from heart failure
    unless you shunt the flow with a pressure bandage the vein will probably die and resulting flesh associated will develop necrosis and that flesh will die so you will have a large muscle die and then you will die as most all of this requires a surgeon to remove or then you get gangrene and die from sepsis.

    Chances are good that you may only get sick as a dog and puke your toe nails up swelling for days to weeks
    but you will have nerve damage in the area and that could be a eternal pain or numbness just a luck of the draw.

    There are a couple of Rattle snakes that are very dangerous their toxin is different maybe even neurotoxic
    I am not a herpetologist so I do not have all the answers but I avoid small desert rattlers and in my area Cane brake rattle snakes.

    I have no fear of reptiles I have caught and eaten most of the common edibles I do not eat or mess with Cotton mouth or water moccasins

    Problem all of these game areas are where snakes spiders and asps hang out you do not get something for nothing especially in the wild.
    Bats are another concern in my area small but many have rabies if your not covered and I like a mosquito net
    you can be biten and not even know it, not very common but a few have died in this area.

    In short many of our kin died from bad water rabies infection from any number of means ingrown hair to boils
    menegitus lock jaw and common flu and pneumonia brought on from exposure wet hair cold night damp chest no coat all the old wives tales that are true to some degree more or less.

    Stupidity kills and nature is just waiting for you not to check your boots for a spider, scorpion or your body for ticks.
    keep a bottle of nail varnish to dab ticks and other blood sucking things like chiggers and fleas.
    all of these will kill you if you do not have access to medications and a doctor.

    another disease tularemia can be caught from rabbits and other vermin other wise called rabbit fever can be gotten from beavers water rat probably any animal that lives in the water.
    cover your face when cleaning any of these animals as well as wear gloves check the meat for what looks like cysts or nodes that look irregular.

    If you live in an area where risk is high for snake bite wear chaps or a leggin made from kydex this also keeps off dew and thorns.
    Never step over a log watch where your feet are going not where they have been a staff is a good tool to test and clear leaf litter always cleat to the dirt the area you intend to camp in snakes love to hide under leaves and pine straw as well as stay on the side of game trails looking for foraging vermin and birds who look for bugs on clear ground.

    It is rare but snakes do climb trees in a storm or flood moccasins do this all the time looking for birds and lizards
    best to watch low limbs any time wasp nests ground & mud hornets and now we have killer bees can kill given enough stings.

    I can tell you a tractor cannot out run ground hornets faster than they can put a hurt on you.
    snakes are camo so well that you have to take a real good look or poke it with a stick to know for sure.
    Killer bees and native bees can cohabitate for a while but even a type called a Itaian Black bee is agressive
    and enough can cause a hive to jump your azz.

    Aspirin & Benadryl are your friends have a pint of pills you will need them creme with lidocane and I carry a stainless flask of DEET AND A DAMN HEADNET.
    Anyone who thinks they can live in the wild without dealing with some of these threats is a moron it can and will happen it is not a matter of if but when and how bad.
    A friend lost a finger tip to a spider bite another lost feeling to the left side of the foot from a a copper head bite
    I lost the feeling in my left wrist for 2 days from a wood scorpion and have been stung by every wasp bee and hornet and a few times asps and when I was a kid got bitten by a moccasin and not a good bite I jerked away fast enough all I got was a couple of scratches and it rotted out 2 hunks the size of large earasers and made me sick
    my forearm and hand swole double, to say the least it was very painful.
    I hate TV and movies redition of some attack by nature is hokey and lame projectile vomiting and racking fever so you shake so hard for a couple of days gut cramps chills and sweats and days of recovery or weeks.
    you cannot hunt for food can hardly make a bathroom much less take care of yourself.

    People today have no understanding of how things will be without doctors and medications die from a simple broken bone commit suicide from pain people have gone insane had a heart attack and die…. screaming.
    in most places on earth the only medication is alcohol and some herbs that are a fraction of the strength of real medicine oh yea slap a chaw of tobacco on it LMAO. or better yet a mustard poltice OMG tears are coming to my eays I am laughing so hard.

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  37. On the Extractor it could be good for boils and infected areas from splinters thorns etc.
    any infection can go in instead of out and that will kill you.

    I carry a old glass coke bottle warm it in water and put it on the area the cooling creates a suction
    they used to do cupping or blood letting with a glass warmed.
    Blood letting is NOT USEFUL just do not do it.
    the bottle can hold liquid I can use it for a fishing reel and ain't bad for a black jack or a whistle of a bird.
    takes some practice.almost forgot you can put in hot water or warm sand and tie it to your head for sinus relief or cold water for a headache.

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  38. I knew already that remedy is useful for curing mosquito bites but I couldn't even imagine it can handle with snake bites, thanks for sharing the article. Mosquitoes are a big problem here in my area so I already tried a lot of means to fight bloodsuckers. I prefer natural ones because they do not contain harmful chemicals. Some essential oils are a great mosquito repellent.

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