Spiders, snakes and scorpions!

Posted Date: 12 October 2015
Snake bite claims

An SCTI customer was bitten by a rattlesnake during a camping trip in Wyoming in the US, and required immediate hospitalisation and administration of anti-venom.

“It was quite expensive, but vital” recalls Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO. “Rattlesnake anti-venom costs around $20,000 a vial, and the typical starting dose for a bite is 4-6 vials.” Thankfully, the traveller made a full recovery and needed only one day in hospital.

However, not everyone has been quite so lucky. It is estimated that there are a quarter of a million snake bite fatalities every year, particularly in developing countries such as Africa and Asia. Travellers should always exercise caution when visiting these areas. Here are a few tips to avoid a run in with a snake:

  • Learn what snakes are native to the area before hiking/camping.
  • Avoid any areas where snakes may be hiding, such as tall grass and dark crevasses.
  • When walking in an area where there may be snakes, wear long pants and boots.
  • Tap ahead of you with a walking stick before entering an area where you can’t see your feet. Snakes will try to avoid you if given enough warning
  • Be careful walking under/climbing trees – snakes can climb trees too!
  • Snakes can also swim – be cautious if swimming, wading or fishing by the water.

Scorpions hiding in clothing have also caused grief for several SCTI travellers. One customer in Peru suffered multiple stings after an arachnid had crawled into their trousers during the night.

Another traveller was stung five times in their groin, leg and arm by a scorpion hiding in their clothes while they were holidaying in Nepal. It required an immediate helicopter evacuation to the nearest hospital for treatment.

We once had a claim where we helped a woman who needed to be hospitalised with a foot ulcer and cellulitis due to a spider bite. This also required an upgrade to business class in order to have her foot elevated during the flight home.

While events such as these are rare, they do happen. We recommend travellers spend a little time researching their chosen destination – including health requirements and precautions.

Reassuringly, the most frequent complaint from travellers about creepy crawlies is bug bites. It’s a good idea to pack antihistamines, even if you’ve never had an allergic reaction before.

Our top tips for avoiding nasty bites

  • Take an insect repellent containing DEET (30%-50%) or picaridin (up to 15%).
  • Always shake out shoes and clothing before putting them on.
  • Make a list of your medications and what conditions they treat. Include generic and brand names in case you need to buy more overseas – your pharmacist can help with this.
  • Prescription medicines should be packed in carry-on luggage and in their original bottles if possible.
  • Leave a copy of your prescriptions at home with a friend or relative, or send it to your personal email account so you can recall it if needed.

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