An Mtunzini woman is fighting for her life after being bitten by a forest cobra on Sunday afternoon, Zululand Observer reports.
Dale Dixon was socialising with friends when the snake struck multiple times at or near the Nature’s Way Backpackers in Mtunzini.
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She is currently in a critical condition at Ngwelezana Hospital. “At the moment she is still on the ventilators and heavily sedated, but she had a good night, and she is stable this morning,” said Dale’s mother, Carol, speaking to the Zululand Observer on Tuesday morning.
In 2015, Freddie Norman, a visitor to the area, who was staying at Nature’s Way Backpackers, was also bit twice by what is believed to be a forest cobra.
Norman was rushed to Ngwelezane Hospital on a Thursday and was discharged that following Sunday. Ngwelezane Hospital is believed to have the one of the best snake bite treatment centres in the country.
The forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca) is the largest true cobra species, with a total length (including tail) of up to 3 metres. The venom of this cobra is a postsynaptic neurotoxin and bites result in severe neurotoxicity.
This snake can be highly dangerous due to the quantity of venom it can inject in a single bite and its aggressive nature when defending. Death can occur rapidly, within 30 to 120 minutes, in severe cases of envenomation.
Signs and symptoms of bites include drowsiness, limb paralysis, hearing loss, inability to speak, dizziness, ataxia, shock, hypotension, abdominal pain, fever, pallor, and other neurological and respiratory symptoms.
It ranks as the 4th most venomous Naja (True Cobra) species.
Deaths from respiratory failure due to severe neurotoxicity have been reported, but most victims will survive if prompt administration of antivenom is undertaken as soon as clinical signs of envenomation have been noted.