Keep A Look Out! Snake Bites Are Up This Year

We have seen a record number of snake bites in humans this year and our hospital has already experienced on Copper Head bite in a dog.  Among all of these snake bites, the bee sting cases we have seen have skyrocketed.  The unusually warm winter did not reduce the numbers of bees, fire ants, or snakes!  Keep your yard mowed low, flower beds clean, and don't let pets near piles of sticks, wood, or thick areas that are prone to lots of sunlight.

If you pet should be stung or bit, please call us or our emergency service immediately. Early treatment of these cases is key to your pet's well being and survival.  

The following is an excerpt from an article published by News 4 in Columbia:

Unseasonably warm weather has allowed people to get outside more often this year. That may explain why reports of snake bites have increased 30 percent in South Carolina from this time a year ago.

Jill Michels, Managing Director for the Palmetto Poison Center (PPC) in Columbia, says her agency often consults hospitals and the general public on how to treat poisonings. That includes bites from South Carolina's six species of venomous snakes.

Michels says by early May 2016, the PPC had received 17 reports of snake bites from hospitals around the state. This year, Michels says the PPC has already gotten 24 reports of snake bites.

South Carolina is on pace to have a second straight year with an unusually high number of reported snake bites. The PPC got 206 reports of bites in 2016, compared to an average of 150-160 reports most years, Michels says.

While that is a significant increase, it pales in comparison to the major swell in cases from North Carolina. The Carolinas Poison Center in Charlotte says reported snakebites in the Tar Heel State are up an incredible 274 percent. The agency says it received 71 calls for snake bites last month, compared to 19 in April 2016.

Back in South Carolina, the PPC usually gets the bulk of its snake bite calls from March through November. Calls this time of year are most common here in the Lowcountry, Michels says.

Not all bites reported to the Palmetto or Carolinas poison centers end up being from venomous snakes, but both agencies say the ones that are from venomous snakes most often come from copperheads.

Other venomous snakes found in South Carolina include eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, timber (canebrake) rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnakes, water moccasins (cotton mouths), and coral snakes.

“The fortunate thing is, our snakes are not aggressive,” said Will Dillman, a herpetologist with the Department of Natural Resources. “It’s very, very unusual for people to encounter a venomous snake out in the wild, particularly in South Carolina.”

The Centers for Disease Control tracks and monitors snake bites in the United States, and says deaths are very rare. The agency estimates 7,000-8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year, but only about 5 die.

The Palmetto Poison Center say if you are bitten by a snake, these are some things you need to know:

  • Remain calm
  • Wash the bite with soap and water
  • Do not apply a tourniquet or ice
  • Do not try to suck the venom from the bite site