Doctors in the Netherlands claim they’ve seen the first-ever case of “scrotal necrosis” from a highly venomous snouted cobra, after a snake bit a man’s balls from inside a toilet.
The 47-year-old patient was on vacation in South Africa at a wildlife reserve when the cobra surprised him from below. He waited three hours for a helicopter to fly him to the nearest trauma center, according to the report, during which he felt a burning pain spread from his genitals up into his abdomen and chest.
When he arrived at the hospital, he had “swollen genitals with a deep purple discoloration, indicating scrotal necrosis,” the researchers wrote; doctors administered eight doses of snake venom antiserum, as well as medications to control his fever, dialysis for injury to his kidneys, and debridement of his sack and shaft that involved excising a lot of his genital tissue.
After nine days, he was transported to a hospital in the Netherlands. The doctors there documented his case as the first to ever describe what happens when a snouted cobra sinks its venom into a man’s genitals, published in the November issue of the journal Urology Case Reports.
The photos of this poor man’s mangled nuts, published in the report, are not safe for life—in the early stages of recovery, his sack looks like a badly-sewn Tim Burton puppet, with a long, thick stitch running straight up the middle. Twenty-one days after the bite, a plastic surgeon patched up his shaft with a skin graft taken from his groin.
As gnarly as it looked at the time, the man’s doctors did a good job of undoing the damage: Within a year, the patient regained function and sensation, a nice bonus to the ultimate outcome of not dying on vacation from a snake bite to the nuts.
Around the world, snakes striking from inside toilets is more common than you’d think. Last year, a seven-foot python bit a woman on the ass in Thailand; in April, a 10-footer got a man in Malaysia; and in July, a five-foot python grabbed a man by the cheeks in Austria. In each of these cases, the snake was non-venomous, and the victims recovered after a trip to the emergency room. The snake that bit the South Africa patient, a snouted cobra, is highly venomous, usually causing tissue death around the bite and if left untreated, respiratory paralysis and death.
The doctors documenting the case of the necrotized scrotum wrote in their report: “Our take home message? Always flush the toilet before sitting down in countries notorious for their snake population!”