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Oklahoma woman receives nearly $200,000 hospital bill after being bitten by snake

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A metro woman was shocked when she received a $200,000 hospital bill after being bitten by a snake.

Diane Nelson says she was wearing rubber gloves and working in her yard when she came across a Copperhead with a short temper.

Diane had been pulling grass from around her bushes when she felt a sting.

“When I pulled my glove off, I had two marks on my finger,” she said.

It was a bite from a Copperhead snake.

Within hours, Nelson's entire arm was swollen and she was rushed to the ICU in need of anti-venom.

“I was in ICU for about two days, 48 hours,” Nelson said.

Two days and 18 vials of anti-venom later, Nelson was able to go home. She later received her bill, which was nearly $200,000 just for the anti-venom.

“The anti-venom is actually an anti-body that is specific for the type of snakes we have here in Oklahoma,” said Scott Schaeffer, with the Oklahoma Center For Poison and Drug Information.“It's a very expensive anti-venom to make."

Schaffer says the anti-venom is expensive for several reasons.

"The snakes have to be milked and several types are milked to create a pool of venom,” he said.

It then goes through an extensive process to create the drug, which is all done in Australia.

It is then shipped to hospitals here.

Another reason is there is a low demand for the drug and most hospitals do not keep much of it on hand.

“The shelf life compared to other drugs is relatively short. So if it doesn't get used, it has to be discarded,” Schaeffer said.

“I was shocked. I knew it would be expensive but not that expensive,” Nelson said.

Fortunately, Nelson found out her insurance will cover the cost.

“It saved my life so I can't complain,” she said.

If you are bitten by a snake, there are things you should not do.

Experts say you should never try to suck the venom out. In fact, Schaeffer says that could actually make it worse.

Also, don't use ice on the bite and don't use a tourniquet to keep the venom from spreading.

Instead, go immediately to the hospital.

Officials say while July has been a busy month for snake bites, they're actually seeing a pretty average number for the year.

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