In the last couple of years, United Regional has seen an increase in venomous snake bite incidents. In 2012, 14 patients were admitted to United Regional, receiving 214 vials of anti-venom. In 2013, 16 patients were admitted, requiring 310 vials of anti-venom.
United Regional has seen the first snake bite of the season and is prepared to treat more snake bite patients if the need arises, keeping approximately 40 vials of anti-venom at any given time.
Of the 16 envenomations last year, there were six strikes to the toes or feet and 10 to the fingers or hand.
Anne Rizzo, MD, Trauma Surgeon advises,
What more can you do to prevent a snake bite?
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Look where you are walking.
- Monitor where your children are playing. Look inside sandboxes and playhouses.
- Keep grass and vegetation cut short. Trim grassy borders along sidewalks and flower gardens to no more than six inches wide and keep low limbs cut three feet off the ground.
- If you need to retrieve something from an area you can’t see such as behind shrubs or under a foundation, use a stick or shovel, not your hands.
- Steer your pet clear of long grasses, bushes and rocks.
- Remove debris piles (e.g., branches, leaves, boards, logs).
- Seal off spacing under A/C unit slabs, landscaping rocks, etc.
- Seal area around A/C lines, electrical and plumbing going into the building.
- Snakes can strike across a distance equal to about half their body length. If you see a snake, go the other direction.
What are you to do in the event of a venomous snake bite?
- Try to remain calm and inactive.
- Loosen or remove any restrictive clothing or jewelry from the area near the bite.
- Watch for signs of shock. Treat if necessary by lying flat with feet elevated and cover with warm clothes or blanket.
- Identify or photograph the snake only if it remains visible from a safe distance.
- Get to a hospital or doctor as soon as possible.
- Make incisions over the snakebite.
- Constrict the flow of blood.
- Immerse a limb in ice water.
- Elevate the bitten area (this will increase the flow of venom to other tissues).
- Use your mouth to extract venom.
- Run as you go for help, to avoid elevating your pulse rate.
- Try to catch or kill the snake.
- Administer any pain medications or antihistamines unless instructed by a doctor.
Lead with a stick when walking and hiking outdoors. And if you see a snake, no matter if it is dead or alive, do not pick it up. Several snakebites have occurred when the bitten thought the snake was dead. It is important to seek medical attention immediately; venomous snake bites can be extremely critical.
Anne Rizzo, MD, Trauma Surgeon
About United Regional
United Regional Health Care System is located in Wichita Falls, Texas and provides comprehensive medical care including inpatient and outpatient services, advanced diagnostics, surgical specialties and life-saving emergency care to a 9-county service area. It has the area’s only Level II Trauma Center and serves as the Primary Stroke Center for the region.