KZN 6-year-old survives Mozambique Spitting Cobra bite. Her doctors share lifesaving advice.


Mikayla Grove has made a full recovery after being bitten in the face by a Mozambique Spitting Cobra. The snake bit her while she slept, thankfully the doctors on duty made lifesaving decisions.


Stories of people being bitten by a Mozambique Spitting Cobra are starting to become a common thing. Just last year we shared the harrowing tale of John Frankiskos who had been bitten while laying on the bed in his hotel room. His story is not quite the same as little Mikayla’s but the cause is all the same.

Mikayla Grove was sleeping in bed when she was bitten. Her father recalls the moment he heard screams of terror, he and his wife ran through to Mikayla’s room and were confronted with the sight of the cobra near their daughter. Inge, Mikayla’s mother heard the hissing before she was sprayed in the face by a stream of poisonous venom. Acting immediately, she ran to the bathroom to flush her eyes with water.

Mikayla’s father, Ludwig, noticed the bite mark on her face and the family knew they had to act quickly. The got into their car and drove to the nearby hospital. Living in Ballito, this wasn’t a far journey to take.

“We bundled the kids into the car and took a bottle of water with us so that my wife could continue washing her eyes‚ as the snake’s venom can cause blindness if it is not quickly and thoroughly rinsed out of the eyes‚” – Ludwig Grove

A family friend, who is also a neonatal nurse at their local hospital contacted the emergency rooms to let them know to expect the family. Dr Bianca Visser, an expert at treating snakebites joined the medical team.

“Treating a venomous snakebite is highly complex. On my way‚ I phoned ahead to instruct the treating doctor to start preparing everything we would need‚ as a Mozambique spitting cobra bite to the face is almost always critical‚” – Dr Bianca Visser

“Mikayla’s condition was initially critical. She was agitated‚ vomiting‚ her face was swollen and there was imminent risk of her airway becoming obstructed. Mikayla was intubated and her airway was secured while the emergency department team started premedication with steroids and adrenaline to prepare her body to receive the antivenom‚”

The medical team administered 17 vials of antivenom. Dr Visser advises that they do not need to identify the snake to administer lifesaving care, she stressed that time spent trying to catch the snake or kill it is time taken from receiving treatment.

“If someone is bitten by a snake it is imperative that they receive appropriate treatment as soon as possible. We do not need to identify the snake to be able to manage a patient appropriately, therefore, people do not need to chase the snake‚ trying to catch or kill it before seeking emergency care‚”

Since the snakebite last month (mid-January 2018), Mikayla has had multiple surgeries to clean out the wound and infections. She has recovered wonderfully and will only need to return in a few months for the doctors to replace the depleted face within her face. Mikayla was able to start grade one and has even named the snake “Pearl”.


“We have spoken to her about her experience and I think she understands what she has been through. Mikayla was glad to hear that the snake that bit her was not killed but was released back into the wild‚” – Ludwig Grove

It is important to note that lifesaving actions by the family and doctors are one of the main reasons why Mikayla has had such a successful recovery.

If you or a loved one is bitten by a snake, remember this:

  • Time is everything, don’t waste it trying to capture the snake. You endanger yourself and person who was bitten.
  • Get to a hospital immediately.
  • Call the Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town (021 938 4911), they have a 24-hour poison centre. The centre will be able to talk you through all the steps of seeking treatment.
  • Ensure you get the correct amount of antivenom, the minimum amount is between 60ml and 120ml.
  • If you have venom in your eye’s or mouth flush it instantly with water and continue to do so until a medical professional has assisted.

Sources: Times Live
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Tyler Vivier
Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy. Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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