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Life and Religion

Tread with care: Beware of snakes and their bite
Encounters with serpents on the rise
 
Published Sunday, June 18, 2017 11:03 am
by Herbert L. White

It’s snake season, and North Carolina is on pace to record more than bites this year.


A mild winter has led to more serpent sightings and encounters between people and serpents. The Charlotte-based Carolinas Poison Center reported 71 snakebite calls through April compared to 19 the same time in 2016. The copperhead, cottonmouth, coral and three types of rattlesnakes are the venomous species native to North Carolina.

The copperhead is the most plentiful and the most reported bite with 10 times the calls than all other types combined.

“Venom is poison and we handle all kinds of poison exposures – including exposures to venom,” said Michael Beuhler, medical director at the Carolinas Poison Center. “We help treat around 500 snake bites statewide every year.”

Most calls fielded by the poison center are from medical professionals looking for recommendations to treat patients. Treatment varies based on factors including the type of snake, amount of venom injected and the victim’s health.

To lower your chances of taking a strike, the poison center suggests:

• Check boots and shows that have been laying in the garage or outdoors before putting them on.

• Wear sturdy boots or shoes when you’re outside, especially when gardening or hiking.

• Watch your step and where you put your hands when outside. If it’s dark, use a lighting source.

• Snakes bite when they feel threatened, so don’t try to pick up or move one. Back away.

If you’re bitten, don’t:

• Cut the bite area and suck the venom out. It can cause infection.

• Ice the wound, which worsens the tissue injury.

• Apply a tourniquet or tight bandage.

• Try to catch or kill the serpent.

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