Health Watch - Bites and Stings: Snake Bites

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Outdoor activities put us in contact with nature, and not always in a good way. This week on Health Watch, we’ll talk animal and insect bites and stings. About 7,000 people a year are bitten by poisonous snakes in the United States. What if you’re one of them?

Snakes usually strike only when they’re surprised or frightened. Watch where you sit or step when you’re outdoors, and when you move through tall grass, poke the ground ahead of you with a stick to scare off snakes. Wear long pants and boots when hiking.

Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, an emergency physician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says that if you’re bitten by a snake, you should go to the emergency room immediately. Stay calm and try to remember what the snake looked like, but don’t try to catch it or it might bite again. You should remove jewelry or tight clothing before the bitten area starts to swell and wash the area around the bite with soap and water, if you can. Ignore the old movies and don’t cut across the bite or try to suck out venom.


June 2010

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