NC leads country in snake bites

NC leads country in snake bites
Doctors said North Carolina leads the country for snake bites.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - Officials at WakeMed are getting the word out, asking people to watch out for any snakes in the area.

Doctors said North Carolina leads the country for snake bites.

Of all 100 counties in the state, they said Wake County has the highest number reported of snake bites.

CBS 17 reporter Zak Dahlheimer's father, Mike Dahlheimer, said a snake bite never crossed his mind, until moving to Raleigh from Florida a few weeks ago.

"If a spaceship landed in front of me, and little green men would've came out, I wouldn't have been more surprised," Dahlheimer said.

Mike Dahlheimer remembers recently taking his dog out one night as usual -- when he felt something on his leg.

"I felt like, when you're walking in the woods, if a stick scratches your leg," he said. "I didn't know what a snake bite felt like, but it hurt."

He said 10 minutes later, he and his wife came out and saw what looked like a copperhead snake.

After going to the WakeMed emergency room, Dahlheimer said he was told this was not uncommon, and that North Carolina leads the country when it comes to snake bites.

"That would've been good information to have," he said. "Being a new resident here, nobody told me that."

Dr. Benjamin German studies snakes as an emergency physician with WakeMed.

"In my hospital system, we see upwards of about 100 bites a year," German said.

He said the reason for the high number of bites in Wake County is due to a large presence of snakes and more people moving into the region.

"Many of these people are moving into suburban areas, maybe a year or two ago were farm land, ranch land and forest," he said. "Now, you have people coming into close proximity with the snakes already there. That's where the bites happen."

He said this time of year is when a number of bites can happen, with more snakes coming into the area too.

"This is typically the time of year when baby copperheads are born," he said. "The population experiences a sudden increase that causes more bites."

The doctor hopes to see the word get out more to help protect others.

"I think more information would be good," German said. "Just finding a way to disseminate that to the greatest number of people would be the challenge."

"More people should know about this," Dahlheimer said. "I might start carrying a gun with me when I walk the dog at night. It gives new meaning to what a snake pistol is."

German said deadly copperhead bites are extremely rare.

He also added most common bites are people walking at dusk or after dark.

Tips to avoid bites include making sure you keep your landscaping trimmed, and you have little or no wood piles, trash piles or anywhere a snake could hide.

Also, German said, make sure you're wearing good, closed-toe shoes.

If you do get bit, German recommends make sure to call 9-1-1 and get medically checked out.

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