Poison Center reports increased snake bite cases in area after flooding

"The biggest advice we give is not to put ice on that bite because what it can do is concentrate the venom in the area and cause more of a problem."

June 24, 2019 - 10:13 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The Missouri Poison Center is getting a lot of calls lately regarding what had been a rather rare occurance -- snake bites. 

Keeping a close eye on this development is the director of the Missouri Poison Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital -- Julie Weber.

"We truly have seen a spike in our calls this past May and daily throughout June," said Weber.  "We are seeing an increase in the number of snake bite calls that have come into the Missouri Poison Center.  I really think it is related to the flooding.  The snakes are seeking drier ground and showing up in people's yards and homes where they usually are not."

If you do get a snake bite, Weber has this advice.

"The best thing to do is to immediately wash the area and look for a puncture wound," Weber tells KMOX. "There could be one or two spots.  Then try to wash the area off with soap and water and remove anything that could be restricting.  And the biggest advice we give is not to put ice on that bite because what it can do is concentrate the venom in the area and cause more of a problem."

 But for any type of snake bite, Weber says immediately call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

"And what they will be able to do is speak with one of our specially trained nurses, or pharmacists, for the proper first aid for that bite because sometimes they're able to evaluate if it is a dry bite versus a non-venomous versus a venomous bite over the hotline and determine if it is safe to keep them home or if they need to go immediately to the hospital."

So what should you do about the snake that just bit you?

"We always advise to get away from the snake," Weber said.  "These snakes usually feel threatened, that's why they bite.  If you can grab a quick picture on a cell phone, that's fine.  But do not try to capture the snake and do not kill the snake.  You just want to get yourself away and out of danger."

 And while it seems like hard advice to follow, Weber says try to remain calm.

"Deaths are very rare from snake bites," said Weber.  "There have been very few reported in Missouri.  I know there was one probably back in 2014.  The bite is painful. It's very scary.  But it's something that can be managed initially at home and then medical attention sought if needed."

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