Large Mozambique Spitting Cobra sprays venom in Westville woman’s eyes after she opened a cupboard at work
Share this article:
DURBAN - A woman opened a cupboard at work in the Westville area and startled a Mozambique spitting cobra which then sprayed venom into her eyes.
Snake rescuer Nick Evans said the woman had opened the cupboard to fetch something and accidentally disturbed a large cobra which was hiding inside.
“Feeling trapped and terrified, it defended itself the best way it knows how. It sprayed venom into her eyes,” he said.
“Fortunately I was five minutes away, not that I needed to catch it. It was apparently on some wires, and in its shock, fell into a bucket after defending itself,”said Evans.
Employees at the office managed to trap the cobra by wrapping a bin bag tightly over it, he said.
Evans said he was expecting a small snake and was surprised to find that it was 1.2 metres long.
“I saw the poor lady, who was in a lot of pain. She had been using her hands to splash her eyes with water in the bathroom. Holding her head under a tap would have been better,” he advised.
Describing what it feels like to have venom in the eyes, Evans said: “It burns, it's painful. Try not to rub your eyes. The eyes usually feel sore for the day, but usually feel fine the next day,” he said, adding that venom on the skin or in the mouth is generally not an issue, “just wash it off/out immediately.”
As there was no hose pipe available, Evans said he instructed the woman to rather get a glass. He told her to keep her eyes open and to thoroughly rinse them with a full glass of water.
“It is vital to flush the venom out. This is the best thing to do immediately after being spat at. It's very uncomfortable but extremely important,” said Evans.
Amar Agarwal, the director of Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital and Eye Research Centre stated on healio.com that a quick response and immediate treatment at a medical facility is essential to prevent blindness once venom enters the eyes.
Agarwal said it is the nature of the cobra to spit venom at predators or prey, and humans are accidentally affected.
He said these cases are more common in the African subcontinent as it is home to a wide species of this snake.
“Corneal and ocular surface damage is predominant after exposure to snake spitting. Prompt diagnosis and immediate medical management prevent permanent vision loss due to corneal opacity in such cases,” said Agarwal.