Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Adar 5762 - March 6, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Diplomate, Board Certification of Emergency Medicine

Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine Ma'ayenei Hayeshua Hospital

Before we continue our series, I must say a word about three new issues that are health concerns among Israelis. You all know about my usual points: stop smoking, buckle your children in the automobile, exercise and eat well, have children wear helmets while biking. I'd like to add some new ones.

There is a man in the shul where I daven who gives snuff to children. While one-time use is unlikely to be dangerous, I remind you that all tobacco products are dangerous and cause addiction with much the same mechanisms as street drugs. Snuff, chewing tobacco, and giving children a chance to smoke on Purim are all encouragement to destructive health behaviors when they grow up.

Second, Israelis in Bnei Brak and Kiryat Sefer at least have a habit of pushing their strollers in the street instead of on the sidewalk. There are streets that do not have enough room for both buses and carriages.

Third, many Israelis pump their children with dangerous foods. Snack foods and chocolate cream sandwiches are a health nightmare. Bamba, spicy snacks, and sugared cereals should be used as only occasional treats if at all.

Let's return to our topic of bites. Reptile bites are quite common, especially snakes. Venomous snakes such as the Fer de Lance in South America, the King Cobra in Asia and the Death Adder in Australia can cause death fairly frequently. Their bites are seen mostly among snake handlers and unsuspecting tourists who venture to exotic places without proper preparation. This practice is common among secular Israelis.

In Israel, the most common venous snakes are the Palestinian Viper and Burton's Carpet Viper, mostly found in the Jerusalem and Dead Sea areas. They both tend to avoid humans, and bite when threatened or surprised, so one should avoid this by not sticking hands in holes, garbage dumps, or overturning rocks. High shoes made of leather should be worn while hiking. Standing perfectly still is the best measure if a snake is close by.

Should a bite occur, the limb should be immobilized and the person rushed to the hospital. Many times the bite is dry, that is without the injection of venom. Making cuts in the skin, sucking out the poison, using ice, or tourniquets are dangerous practices. Antivenom exists for many snakes, but the treatment itself may be dangerous too. Let your doctor decide.

There are only two poisonous lizards in the world. One is the Gila monster, whose biting mechanism is not very efficient -- it doesn't have sharp teeth -- and bad effects from its bite are rare. It is found in Arizona. The other lizard is found in Mexico. Lizards such as iguanas and chameleons are often kept as pets. One should always wash his hands after handling, as they carry the bacteria called salmonella.

There is a poisonous frog -- the brightly colored dart frog of South America. Another bad reptile bite we'll mention is the crocodile. More on that another time.

A message from Glaxo, sponsor of this column. Once again I had a patient who had received improper migraine therapy. The drug of choice is now Naramig or Imitrex. It works consistently -- speak to your doctor.


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