Bitten by his snake, he administers electric shocks and advances science

Bitten by his snake, he administers electric shocks and advances science

Bitten by his snake, he administers electric shocks and advances science

After being bitten by his rattlesnake in 1991, this American tried to cure himself with electric shocks by connecting it to the spark plug of his car. This surprising idea then circulated among snake owners in the United States as a remedy for reptile venom. Thanks to this misadventure, science was finally able to put an end to these rumors with a very serious report that invalidated the effectiveness of this shock treatment and confirmed its danger to health …

Bad idea first: playing with your rattlesnake

Referred to as “Patient X” by doctors, the man we are interested in today is a former US Army Marine. Lover of reptiles, he then had an impressive specimen of a rattlesnake. Sometimes he even played with his cute pet … until the inevitable happened. One fine day in 1991, the reptile bites him on the upper lip. A deadly poison then circulates in Patient X’s body. A race against time for his survival begins. However, he did not seek medical attention immediately.

rattlesnake
Credits: Steve Mcsweeny / iStock

Second bad idea: connect the lip to the vehicle spark plug

Patient X then asks for help … his neighbor. The swollen-lipped seer knows that the time is serious. In fact, in advance, the two men agreed on the reflexes to have in the event of a rattlesnake bite. Then they apply the protocol discovered (and mostly misunderstood) in a hiking magazine. A method that some snake owners in the region are familiar with, but few have dared to use so far.

The two men go to Patient X’s car, lift the body, open the hood. The former marine lies down in front of his vehicle. Using a crocodile clip, his neighbor connects his upper lip to the engine spark plug. Then he gets behind the wheel. Determined to save his friend, he puts the rubber until the speedometer of the car indicates 3000 rpm. Hoping to eliminate his pet snake’s venom, Patient X undergoes this strange electroshock treatment for five long and painful minutes.

Bad ideas that ultimately advanced science

Seeing the result of their protocol, the two men finally ask for help. Patient X really shows up a swollen face marked by multiple burns. Also, the poison still runs through his veins. After being rushed to hospital by helicopter, two doctors manage to save him despite everything. Then they produce a report explaining (and confirming) that electroshock treatment of a rattlesnake bite is ineffective. And above all this type of injury can be treated very well with the administration of an appropriate antivenin …

Credits: OcusFocus / iStock

Patient X and his two rescuers were awarded in 1994 during the Ig-Nobel ceremony, the parodic Nobel Prize winners, in the “medicine” category. Crisp anecdote, Patient X and one of the doctors who treated him had already met a few years before the accident. While he was still a soldier stationed on the Japanese island of Okinawa, future patient X had been treated by this doctor … for a poisonous snake bite, habu. A misadventure that, apparently, hasn’t dampened her love for scaly beasts.

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