Dutch boy, four, suffers facial paralysis after he is bitten by a cobra while asleep during South African safari
- The boy, who has not been named, was bitten on the face by a spitting cobra
- The venomous bite left the child with severe facial paralysis which doctors feared could be permanent
- But following months of rehabilitation, most of the paralysis has been reversed
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
PUBLISHED: 18:01, 25 May 2021 | UPDATED: 18:38, 25 May 2021
The venomous bite left the child with severe facial paralysis which doctors feared could be permanent – but following months of rehabilitation, most of the paralysis has been reversed.
The boy, who has not been named, was on a safari with his family when he was bitten on the face by a Mozambican spitting cobra.Dailymail.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Daily MailPauseNext video1:14 / 1:54SettingsFull-screenRead More
He was saved by doctors in South Africa at a rural hospital where he was resuscitated and treated with antivenom.
The boy was flown back to Holland 12 days later where he was treated by Doctor Willem Rinkel at the Utrecht University Medical Center. +4
A four-year-old Dutch boy was bitten on the face by a spitting cobra whilst he slept during a safari in South Africa. Pictured: The little boy in hospital after being bitten by the cobra+4
The Mozambican spitting spider, the type of snake that bit the boy, has a neurotoxin that rarely kills its victims but often blinds them and leaves them with disabilities and disfigurement (file photo)
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Dr Rinkel said in a paper he published regarding the boy’s case that: ‘The snake bit him just under his right eye which he would have lost if he wasn’t asleep.’
When the boy arrived at the hospital in the city of Utrecht, his right cheek was paralysed, the muscles in his lower eyelid where not working and the swelling in his face was causing him severe pain.
Dr Rinkel diagnosed the boy with partial facial paralysis which was caused by the neurotoxins in the snake’s venom.
The Mozambique spitting cobra has a neurotoxin that rarely kills its victims but often blinds them and leaves them with disabilities and disfigurement.
The snake normally spits its poison into the eyes of its prey from a distance of up to 9.8 feet (3 metres).
The doctor explained that two incisions were made under the bite to drain the fluid that had built up under the boy’s skin.
The draining reduced the swelling in the boy’s cheek but it also resulted in the skin hardening and him losing
some sensitivity in the area.
Dr Rinkel explained that two incisions were made under the bite to drain the fluid that had built up under the boy’s skin. Pictured: The boy a week after having his abscess drained+4
The boy seven months after the bite
Dr Rinkel and the medical team began ‘mime therapy’ which involves massages, breathing techniques and various muscle contraction exercises to help the boy regain movement in his facial muscles.
The doctor reported that within seven months the boy had regained the ability to open and close his right eye and after 21 months the boy’s face had regained its symmetry.
Dr Rinkel reports that the boy made an almost complete recovery and the case is testament to the effectiveness of using ‘mime therapy’ in snakebite victims.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported in 2017 that between 1.8 and 2.5 million people are affected by snake bites every year resulting in between 94,000 and 125,00 deaths.
Many of the people affected live in rural communities with poor access to health care and rehabilitative treatment often leading to long-term disabilities.
Dr Rinkel believes that the successful rehabilitation of this four-year-old boy shows that long term damage caused by snakebites can be alleviated using effective rehabilitative treatment.