Monroe, Ga. (June 11, 2018) – Snake bite season has just begun, so if you are an outdoor enthusiast, here are a few things you should know.
According to the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the following are the six venomous snakes in our state: Copperhead, Pigmy rattlesnake, Canebrake or Timber rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake and Eastern coral snake.
Georgia ranks high with the number of snake bite calls per year, with most occurring in North and Middle Georgia. In each of the years between 2010-2015, more than 400 people were bitten by a snake in the state and reported it or sought assistance from the Georgia Poison Control Center. While only two snake bites resulted in death, about one fourth of those who sought assistance needed an antidote.
What to do if you get bit?
- Immediately seek medical care from the closest emergency room – arrange immediate transportation or call 9-1-1.
- A medical professional will clinically assess the degree of seriousness of a snake bite and envenomation by watching you and the wound over a period of time.
- If you don’t have immediate transportation, while waiting for an ambulance, you should stay calm, keep the affected limb at the same elevation as the rest of your body, don’t eat or drink anything (food, medications, etc.). Some medications, like aspirin, can cause worse effects of venom.
- If you are absolutely sure the snake is a non-venomous snake, wash the bite with warm, soapy water and still seek medical care to assess the need for treatment. You are still at risk for tetanus and infection.
“The quicker the patient can get help, the better the outcome, so it is important to seek medical care right away,” said Steven Durocher, M.D., Piedmont Walton Hospital. “Only a trained medical professional can assess your need for treatment and determine if you need an antidote. With serious envenomation, the rapidity of which you receive the antidote can save your limb and your life.”
- Old Wives Tales to Ignore:
- Don’t apply a tourniquet
- Don’t cut the wound
- Don’t try to suck the venom out
- Don’t pack in ice
Other Important Things to Note:
As for snake identification, you should never try and catch the snake as this only increases your heart rate, puts you and others at risk of a second bite and delays much needed medical care. You should also never make assumptions about which snake bit you if you didn’t see it.
When hiking or camping, it is recommended that you wear proper boots for protection and avoid being barefoot or wearing flip flops at night.
“At Piedmont Walton, we carry an antivenin that covers the crotalid family which includes the six venomous snakes in Georgia among others,” said Dr. Durocher. “It is most effective in preventing venom-induced tissue damage when given early.”