Today we are continuing our snake bite quiz with Dr. George Hertner, chief of emergency medicine at UCHealth Memorial Hospital. Let’s face it: If you enjoy the Colorado lifestyle snakes will be something you will come across sooner or later.
Dr. Hertner points out, “When you’re out in areas that have snakes, and those can be in our parks – that could be hiking in Garden of the Gods – you need to be aware that snakes are out and about. You’re in their environment and you need to try to avoid them.”
If a snake bites you, you can experience:
A: Pain at the bite
B: Increased heart rate
D: Profuse sweating
the Answer is: all of the above
Dr. Hertner says there are even more symptoms possible. “A person can get (symptoms of shock), they can feel lightheaded, they can feel like they’re going to pass out. They can have more and more pain in their limbs or wherever they were bitten. If it’s going to be a long time to get in (to the hospital) or even a short time, we do ask you to remove rings from your fingers, or if there is extremely tight clothing, remove that and get yourself to the hospital.”
True or False: You must kill the snake and bring it with you to prove what kind it is.
The answer is: False
Dr. Hertner adds, “In fact we would worry that if you’re trying to kill a snake, you’re putting yourself and others at risk of getting hurt again. Snakes can still reflexively bite even after they’re dead so just don’t handle the snake. If you can easily take a picture of the snake that’s fine. If you can describe the snake – the pattern on its back and what it looked like – its size, that’s always helpful. For the most part, we know what snakes exist in our community and we know what treatment these snakes require.”
True or false: A rattlesnake bite can be fatal.
The answer is: True
Dr. Hertner says, “Snake bites can lead to a fatality as well as pretty significant tissue damage. It’s not the kind of situation where you want to do nothing about it, or just sit at home and wait and see what happens. If you’re bitten by a rattlesnake, come see us, we will consult one of our toxicologists and see if you’re a good candidate for anti-venom to counteract the venom that was injected (by the snake).”