Spring Snakebites Being Reported In B/CS Area

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We've only had a small taste of spring, but that's enough for snakes to start making their appearance.

In fact St. Joseph in Bryan says they've already treated one person for a snakebite.

News 3 found out why doctors and animal experts are warning to be on the lookout as warm weather returns.

The sting of snakebite can cause immense pain and leave lingering scars.

Here in the Brazos Valley ER doctors are already treating snakebite victims.

Dr. Micheal Spohn of St. Joseph Regional Health Center treated the hospital's first snakebite patient of the season four weeks ago when the weather started warming up.

"With copperheads it takes a while for it to swell up in most cases but occasionally the snake will get a pretty good venom shot and happens to hit the veins. And it starts to swell even more, so when that happens what you want to do is keep your hand elevated. Don't suck on the wound," said Spohn, an Emergency Physician.

Here in B/CS they mostly treat copperhead bites. But you also need to watch out for coral snakes, water moccasins and occasionally rattlesnakes.

Anti-venom treatment can be expensive, too, with it costing up to $20,000 and even $30,000.

"It's not something we take lightly and we are faced with the choice of saving a limb or saving a life versus doing that. These are real tough choices at times," Spohn said.

Veterinarian Mark Stickney is the Director of General Surgery Services at the Texas A&M Small Animal Clinic and sees animals bitten by snakes too.

"Dogs when they run into these snakes they tend to get bit on the face and on the neck because that's right where they do what they do and they are curious about things, and cats tend to be bitten on their front legs," Stickney said.

"What is the saying goes, 'Red on yellow kill a fellow and red on black venom lack...' how bout just run away?," said Micheal Spohn.

Advice that can keep you from ending up in the ER.

The Robertson County EMS Chief says they have also been treating snakebites lately.

If you are bitten they recommend you lay as flat as possible and not apply ice to the wound. You should also call 911 or get to your closest hospital.

Staying calm after a snakebite is important too. Keeping your heart rate and blood pressure as low as you can will help slow down the spread of venom.

On average, one to two people in Texas die each year from venomous snakebites.