POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. – Experts are warning Oklahomans across the state to be on the lookout for creatures who may be lurking nearby.
According to the Shawnee News-Star, SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital- Shawnee have treated 12 snake bite patients so far this year.
Doctors say if you are bitten by a snake, do not bring it to the emergency room. Instead, the Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends getting a description of the snake and its markings.
Also, leave the wound at or below heart level and try to clean out the wound if possible.
If you are bitten, you should:
- Sit down and stay calm
- Gently wash with warm soapy water
- Remove jewelry or tight clothing
- Keep the bitten area still
- Call the Oklahoma Center for Poison & Drug Information
- Cut the bitten area and try to drain the venom
- Try to remove the venom by sucking it or using a suction device
- Ice the area. Ice causes additional tissue damage
- Apply a tourniquet or tight bandage. It is better for the venom to flow through the body than to stay in one area
- Attempt to catch or kill the snake
- Give the victim sedatives or alcohol.
“If there was venom with the bite, there will be signs,” Dr. A.C. Husen, Emergency Department Medical Director at SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Shawnee, told the newspaper. “There will be swelling, bruising and redness. The biggest thing for us here in the emergency room is to monitor the patient.”
If swelling continues and there is a burning sensation 15 to 30 minutes after the bite occurred, a venomous snake was likely involved.
Venomous snakes in Oklahoma include the Western Massasauga Rattlesnake, Prairie Rattlesnake, Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Western Pygmy Rattlesnake, Copperhead and Cottonmouth.
Snakes are most commonly found between now and October. You can minimize snake sightings by keeping your grass cut and not having a lot of items in the yard.