Awareness of wild animals important Southwest

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The Cypress Health Region is reminding the public to be mindful of the persistence of wild animals that inhabit many areas of southwest Saskatchewan. Wild animals can pose a significant risk to one’s health and should be avoided no matter how big or small.

It is especially important to take all possible precautionary measures when present in unpopulated areas such as fields, pastureland, and parks. If you encounter a wild animal do not approach it. Over the summer months, though infrequent, medical staff are periodically required to attend to incidents of wild animal bites.

“All wild animals can be dangerous” says Dr. David Torr, Consulting Medical Health Officer for the Cypress Health Region. “Many wild animals are at risk of carrying rabies, a fatal virus infection that can be very traumatic and nearly always fatal. As well, wild animal bites can cause other infections including tetanus.”

”The public also needs to remember that we have prairie rattlesnakes in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan that are poisonous. Prairie rattlesnakes carry a venom capable of causing tissue destruction, swelling, internal bleeding, and intense pain,” noted Dr. Torr.

If you are bitten by any wild animal you should seek medical attention immediately and explain the circumstances to enable the attending physician to properly discuss with the Medical Health Officer the best management as regards to rabies or other infection. Do not tamper with the wound except for cleaning using a clean solution if available. It is also important to make sure your tetanus immunization is up to date.

If you or somebody you are with is bitten by a rattlesnake the following important steps should be followed:

1. Do not cut the bite area, or use suction, or try to apply a tourniquet, or apply ice

2. Remain as calm as possible and don‘t panic. Around 25 per cent of bites from venomous snakes may be dry bites.

3. Call 9-1-1 to request medical attention and ambulance as quickly as possible

4. Snakebites are medical emergencies. Quick assessment in a hospital is necessary. There is a time frame in which to safely transport the person bitten to a treatment facility.

5. Carefully remove jewellery from the affected limb in case of swelling

6. Carry the victim, if possible, or help them to remain calm, inactive, and in a semi-sitting position until help arrives

7. Keep the affected limb below the level of the heart

8. Cleanse the wound if possible

9. Splint the affected limb loosely to reduce movement (if splint material is at hand)

Wearing appropriate attire when walking in the wilderness is an important precautionary measure to ensure protection against snake bites, tick bites, and other dangerous wild animals and insects. The public is reminded not to approach wild animals, whether young or old, to avoid unnecessary injury and complications.

Organizations: Cypress Health Region

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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