Lifewatch: snake bites

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email

(WECT) - The summer season brings an increase in snakes, as well as an increase in the number of people participating in outdoor activities.

Understanding the correct first aid is vital for treating a snake bite and can sometimes make the difference between life and death.

"The minute I had gotten out of the door and we started walking down the walkway, [I felt] a sharp pain," said Toni Wiley.  "I don't know how to describe it, like someone was stabbing you with a needle really fast."

A bite from a venomous copperhead snake landed the North Texas woman in the hospital.

"The pain started, and I couldn't walk on it. I couldn't put pressure on it."

Panic began to set in as the pain got worse.

"I was just thinking venom 911! on animal planet. My flesh is going to start peeling!"

Doctors say they've seen a rash of snake bites in just the past two weeks. They say during the summer, snakes could be anywhere.

"They could be in your garden, hiding under bushes, resting away from the sun," said Dr. David Smith, a trauma specialist. "Don't approach a snake. Don't make the snake feel threatened."

Venom from copperheads is rarely deadly, but getting bitten is extremely painful and dangerous.

"It can affect the clotting function in the blood, so people can start bleeding elsewhere."

Wiley was wearing flip flops in the grass when she was bitten, and she says she's learned her lesson.

"When I get out of the hospital, we are going to buy boots," said Wiley.

Areas around the home should be kept tidy and lawns mowed to discourage snakes. Wearing closed shoes and long pants can also provide some protection.

Most snake bites are the result of trying to catch or kill snakes.  Snakes should be left alone and given plenty of space.

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