Snake bites in Missouri keeping poison center busy with high call volume

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ST. LOUIS - Some venomous snakes are washing up after recent flooding and biting people in the St. Louis region.

“So, what we have seen is a definite increase in our call volume with the number of snake bites that we are seeing every day,” said Julie Weber, director of the Missouri Poison Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Weber said that a majority of the bites have been Copperheads.

“Which can be a problem,” she added, “that does worry us a bit for those who are in their yards doing gardening because it is a venomous snake.”

Weber said that another venomous snake to watch out for is the Cottonmouth.

“A non-venomous snake has teeth and leaves more of a bite mark,” Weber explained, “whereas the venomous ones will have a single or a double puncture wound. So, they are showing up inside garages, in flowerbeds, around mailboxes. They are trying to get to dryer ground and to a warmer area.”

Weber points, snake bites can initially be treated with just soap and water but she encourages that proper treatment should be determined by medical evaluation as icing the wound can make it worse.  Some snake bites may also need to be treated with the antivenom. That treatment can also be determined by medical evaluation.

“It really does concentrate the venom at the site and causes further destruction of the tissue,” she said.

Weber explained that deaths from snake bites are very rare. She said the center is preparing for taking more bite calls.

For any type of snake bite, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.


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