Be alert for rattlers: snakes out and biting
Poison center called in on 14 snakebites in 6 days
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, located at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, warns desert dwellers that rattlesnake bites for the first three weeks in August are the highest they have been in three years.
“Our center serves all of southern and northern Arizona – all counties except Maricopa,” says Keith Boesen, PharmD, director of the poison center. “We’ve been called by ER physicians about 14 snakebites in the last six days.
“Since the beginning of August, there have been 24 bites in our service area. In 2010 during early August, there were nine bites. Last year, there were 17. So we are definitely seeing a lot of activity.”
Boesen offers the tips below for avoiding snakebite. If you are bitten, go to an emergency department immediately, he says.
“Venomous snakebites require prompt medical attention. There simply are no field first-aid treatments that help. Get to an ER as quickly as you can.”
Tips to avoid snakebite
- Be aware of peak movement times. Reptiles in Arizona are most active in the warmer months of April through October. During the hottest months, they will be most active at night.
- Watch where you put your hands and feet. Try to keep your hands and feet out of crevices in rocks, wood piles and deep grass. Always carry a flashlight and wear shoes or boots when walking after dark.
- Leave reptiles alone. Up to 70 percent of reptile bites managed by the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center were provoked by the person who was bitten--that is, someone was trying to kill, capture or harass the animal.
- Dead snakes can bite. Never handle a venomous reptile, even after it's dead. Reflex strikes with injected venom can occur for several hours after death.
- Install outdoor lightingfor yards, porches and sidewalks. If you see a venomous reptile in your yard, it is probably just "passing through." However, if you are concerned about a dangerous animal in your yard, seek professional assistance in removing it.
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy provides free and confidential poison control and medication information to the public and healthcare professionals. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One of 57 centers that make up the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the Tucson center serves all of Arizona except Maricopa County. Call 1-800-222-1222 from any location to reach the poison center nearest you.