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Snake Bite Blog

Monday, August 17 2015

There is some concern that the drought in California has led to an increase in rattlesnake bites across the state. Along with many snake bite in Yosemite National Park other animals, rattlesnakes are venturing into new-found territory in search of water sources. Earlier this summer, an experienced hiker was bit by a rattlesnake at Nevada Fall. The story was posted today on Facebook with a link to the Yosemite National Park website. Below is an excerpt:

On June 29, 2015, sometime around 4 pm, a 49-year-old day hiker at the top of Nevada Fall experienced what many people would consider their worst nightmare: being bitten, and envenomated, by a rattlesnake. He was an experienced hiker and had come across rattlesnakes in the wild before. 
 
The top of Nevada Fall was the objective for the subject and his family. Upon reaching the footbridge at the top of the fall, they decided to do what many hikers feel the need to do after walking in the afternoon heat: take off their shoes and cool their feet at a safe spot in the river. As the subject made his way back onto the granite shoreline, he stepped down into a shallow recess between several rocks and was immediately bitten on the right foot. Moments later, another member of the subject’s family dialed 911 and reported the incident, at which time Yosemite Search and Rescue began to mobilize their response.  
 
A rescue team began hiking to the patient's location as park helicopter 551 mobilized. Approximately one hour after being bitten, 551 airlifted the subject from the top of Nevada Fall and flown to the valley floor, where medical care was waiting. The clinic staff administered antivenom medication to the subject, stabilized him, and readied him for transport to a regional hospital via a medical helicopter.
 
Many people see rattlesnakes while hiking in Yosemite. Snake bites are rare here, but it is important to know that they do occur and that the resulting injuries can be serious: this subject spent several days in the hospital recovering from his bite. It is understandable that the patient was barefoot while wading, but for the rest of the hike, a pair of snake boots or other sturdy shoes can protect against many snakebites. Snake gaiters offer snake bite protection from approximately your knee down to your ankle and should be worn with sturdy boots. An important lesson to learn from this incident is to always be aware of where you place your hands and feet—in addition to snakes, crevices can hide scorpions, spiders, and yellow jacket nests. This hiker didn't do anything wrong. In this case it just happened to be that a viper proved to be the most dangerous part of the trip— not the obvious hazards of the quickly flowing river, the granite cliffs, or the midday heat.
 
If you are bitten, keep in mind that the most effective treatment for snakebite is to seek medical care at a hospital or emergency room as quickly as possible. Gone are the days when snakebite first aid involved cutting into the bite and sucking the venom out of the body. Don't try it!  It doesn't work!
 
Finally, treat all wildlife with respect and give them the space they need to stay wild. Never approach wildlife to feed, pet, or photograph them. No matter how docile the animal or reptile may appear, it is wild and could spook easily.
Posted by: Denise AT 03:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 03 2015

No one knows for sure how many people are actually treated for venomous snakebite annually, but according to a Parkssnake bite protection and Wildlife Department herpetologist, each state usually reports of one or two deaths per year. For those bitten who survive, treatment for rattlesnake bites reportedly runs anywhere from about $20,000 at the minimum up into the six-figure range. Anti-venom and treatment is very expensive! Young children out exploring and intoxicated young men make up a good chunk of the bite victims. Hikers and hunters also get bitten, as do those who work in and around snake habitat, especially when moving logs and rock piles.

To keep you and your family safe, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to know which venomous snakes you might encounter where you live, work, and play. Texas has the most snake bites annually in the country, usually between 500 and 1,000. One-third to a half of those bites are venomous. Experts in the Lone Star State say you only need to worry about four species: western diamondback rattlesnake, copperhead, coral snake, and cottonmouth (also called water moccasin). Size does not matter because they are venomous at birth.

Coral snakes spend most of their time under leaves and logs and few people ever see them. They really aren’t a threat unless they are handled. Cottonmouths have black and white chins, float on top of the water and are not all that common. The copperhead is the only snake in Texas that is a two-color banded snake. The majority of venomous snakes sighted in residential yards are the diamondback. This rattlesnake sheds within 10 days of being born and then scatters. Babies end up in some strange places, like back steps and garages, looking for mice and lizards to eat, so you’re most likely to see this snake around homes and sheds. Adult diamondbacks want to stay away from activities and people. The most common snakes people encounter that are not poisonous are rat snakes—the only large snake that climbs.

Texas, of course, isn’t the only state with vipers. Oklahoma is home to five species of rattlesnakes. Three venomous species call Pennsylvania home— the northern copperhead, timber rattlesnake, and eastern massasauga rattlesnake. In California, where more than 800 humans are bitten each year, there are at least six types of rattlesnakes to be concerned about. Arizona has 13 species of rattlesnakes, and Nevada has six. Alaska is the only state that has never reported a venomous snake. For a list by state, visit http://www.venombyte.com/venom/snakes/venomous_snakes_by_state.asp

The best suggestions for avoiding snake bite is common sense and prevention. Don’t walk through tall grass. Places like flooded pastures create great breeding sites for frogs and feeding sites for frog hunters like snakes. Walk around rock piles and logs instead of stepping over them. If you see a snake, leave it alone. Remember that snakes are just as active in the fall as they are in the spring, so hunters should be extra cautious. No matter which state you live in, it makes sense to think about snake bite protection in advance of being outdoors — simply wear snake gaiters or snake boots.  If you are bitten, below are a few do's and dont's suggested by medical professionals:

What to Do if You Are Bitten by a Snake

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Stay as calm as possible.
  • Get away from the snake but stay as immobile as possible until help has arrived.
  • Remove clothing or accessories that may restrict your blood flow and cause swelling.

What Not to Do if You Are Bitten by a Snake

  • Don’t try to capture the snake – this is unnecessary and can lead to a more dangerous situation.
  • Don’t create an incision or suction the wound.
  • Don’t administer any drugs to the victim.
  • Don’t apply a tourniquet (restrictive device used to constrict the flow of blood to a body part).
  • Don’t apply ice to the snakebite.
  • Don’t wait to see if symptoms occur – seek professional medical help immediately!


Posted by: Denise AT 02:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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