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Walgett community gutted – Tragic brown snake death

A GIRL killed by a brown snake near Walgett did not know she had been bitten until several hours later when she was almost comatose, the shire’s deputy mayor says.
Nanjing Night Net

The six-year-old girl died on Saturday, eight days after being bitten on a property outside Walgett, prompting emergency services to issue a statewide warning.

She was taken to Walgett hospital, where doctors administered anti-venom, about 3pm on February 5.

She was then flown to the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick, where she was placed on life support.

After her condition deteriorated significantly, she was transferred back to Walgett hospital, where she died on Saturday.

Walgett shire deputy mayor Jane Keir, a registered nurse for more than 40 years, said she believed the girl did not see the snake and did not know that she had been bitten until several hours later.

By the time her family took her to Walgett hospital, it was a “pretty drastic case” and there was probably little that could have been done, she said.

“I believe the family didn’t know she’d been bitten and, by the time they’d realised, she was comatose,” Cr Keir said.

“The little girl could have been on the edge of Sydney and the result would have been the same.”

Cr Keir said she believed the girl trod onthe snake while outside on her family’s property, about 25 kilometres from the Walgetttownship.

She was suffocating by the time she was admitted to hospital and the family wasn’t able to identify what snake bit her because no one saw it, Cr Keir said.

Eastern brown snakes cause more deaths than any other species of snake in Australia and victims often don’t realise they have beenbitten.

The initial bite is generally painless and often difficult to detect, the Australian Museum says.

They typically have small fangs but extremely potent venom that can cause progressive paralysis and uncontrollable bleeding that can spread to the brain.

NSW Ambulance and NSW Police have issued a reminder to people to be wary of snakes in warmer months.

Joy Adams, general manager for the northern sector of the Western NSW Local Health District, said the health district and the Walgett Multipurpose Service extended their condolences to the girl’s family.

“We can confirm that appropriate treatment and care was provided, including the administration of anti-venom, and that the patient was transferred to (Randwick) by air ambulance and then returned to Walgett.”

Cr Keir said some staff at Walgett hospital who treated the girl knew her family.

“It is very, very tough. This would have been devastating for the staff,” she said.

“It’s a tragedy and something that would have been very, very difficult to avoid the end result.”

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