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Snake Bites

Facts about snake bites:

Each year, approximately 7,000 people receive bites from venomous snakes in the United States, mostly in the summer months. Even a bite from a non-venomous snake can cause infection or allergic reaction in some people. The most important thing to remember for snake bites is to treat all snake bites as if they were venomous and get to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible, especially if you are unsure of the exact type of snake responsible for the bite. With the correct treatment (or antivenin), severe illness and/or death can be prevented. (Antivenin is an antitoxin specific to the venom of a particular animal or insect).

People who frequent wilderness areas, camp, hike, picnic, or live in snake-inhabited areas should be aware of the potential dangers posed by venomous snakes. These people should:

What snakes are venomous?

Only about 5 percent, or roughly 25 species of snakes in the US are venomous. The most common venomous snakebites are caused by the following snakes:

Rattlesnake bites cause most of the venomous bites in the US. Coral snakes cause less than 1 percent of venomous snakebites.

What are the symptoms of snake bites?

Symptoms will vary depending on the type of snake bite, amount of venom injected, and size and general health of the snake bite victim. Some snake bite victims may not have symptoms for a period of time. Symptoms may include any of the following:

Treatment for venomous snake bites:

Remain calm and reassure your child that you can help. Specific treatment for a snake bite will be determined by your child's physician. Treatment may include:

Once in the hospital, treatment may include the use of antivenin, an antitoxin specific to the venom of a particular animal or insect. Treatment may also include lab work, pain or sedation medications, tetanus booster, antibiotics, and supportive care.

Preventing snake bites:

Some bites, such as those inflicted when your child accidentally steps on a snake in the woods, are nearly impossible to prevent. However, there are precautions that can reduce your child's chances of being bitten by a snake. These include:

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