With the weather warming up, rattlesnakes move out of their hibernation in the Northern California foothills and into the woods or tall grass.
About 7,000 - 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes per year in the U.S., and about 5 of those people die. In California, more than 300 rattlesnake bite cases are reported to the California Poison Control System.
Rattlesnakes can be especially plentiful in the state’s foothills. At Mark Twain Hospital in Calaveras County, the first of the snakebit patients of the year have started rolling in.
Emergency Department Director Kristine Dittman said that people should seek immediate care at their hospital, where antivenom should be available.
Humans aren’t the only ones at risk — our pets are at a high risk, too. Dittman advises keeping dogs on a leash when going for a walk in the woods.
“If your animal gets bit, you definitely want to take them to the vet,” Dittman said. “[A bite] could cause a lot of swelling, so if they bit, it could impact their airway. That’s a real serious emergency.”
She also suggested that people who get bit should go to the hospital and do a couple of things like elevating arms and legs, and removing rings, watches, or shoes because there will be swelling.
One thing Dittman doesn’t suggest people do? Suck the poison out. Dittman also says not to bring the snake to the hospital.
“That’s happened a couple of times. We don’t want to see it. We believe you,” she said.
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