Snake bites in Missouri up sharply in 2015

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ST.LOUIS (KPLR) - Reports of snake bites are up dramatically in Missouri this spring. A Nixa, Missouri man died after suffering snake bites to both of his legs.  Nurses at the Missouri Poison Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center are busy.  In May of 2014 21 people called complaining of snake bites.  This year the number is already 45 and the month is not over yet.  Julie Weber is director of the poison center, “It’s is very unusual to see a death related to a snake bite especially in Missouri.”

She thinks the nice weather has people out and about more coming in contact with the reptiles. Experts say most of Missouri’s snakes are not venomous. And, people at the poison center can give you sound advice if you’re injured.

The largest group of people who are attacked are males 17 to 27 years old who are trying to handle or kill a snake, sometimes alcohol is involved.  Dan Zarlenga is a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation, “If you just basically leave snakes alone, don’t try to touch them or pick them up or kill them in anyway most likely you’re going to be okay.”

A snake bite should be treated differently than other injuries that swell.  Weber said, “You don’t want to put ice on it.  Ice can concentrate the venom in that area and cause more of a problem with the tissue destruction.”  Don’t use a tourniquet for the same reason.  And, don’t cut the area and try to suck out the venom.  She said it doesn’t work and you could introduce bacteria into the wound.