Local hospital prepared to treat rattlesnake bites

Local hospital prepared to treat rattlesnake bites

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Rattlesnake sightings are happening across west Texas. There have even been reports of pets getting bitten in the area.

Hospitals say bites typically come in spurts during spring and the fall time, but are they prepared to treat the bites?

When you hear that rattling sound, most know to back away, but thousands are bitten every year.

"We saw them all the time this time of year, a whole lot in the emergency rooms, especially farmers and ranchers, around here, a lot of guys in the oil field. You're going to come more in contact with them," said Dr. Bonnie Carter, a family physician.

Carter works in family medicine, but she used to work in the Panhandle in the emergency room, seeing bite after bite. She says a lot of them could have been avoided, people getting too close, not paying attention to where they are walking, or killing a snake and picking it up right after.

No matter how you are bitten, you need to go to the emergency room immediately.

"It's not something that you want to wait. Time is of the essence with any kind of snake bite because if you need Crofab, which is the anti-venom, you need to get going on it sooner rather than later," said Carter.

"You continue to dose the person until the blood levels comeback that they don't need it any more," said Charlene Dawson, Director of Pharmacy at Medical Center Hospital.

Dawson says despite having a large rattlesnake population here in west Texas, many rural hospitals don't keep anti-venom on hand.

"Most outlying areas don't stock it, nor do they really no how to dose it. Emergency services picks them up out in those rural areas, they bring them straight to us," said Dawson.

Medical Center Hospital serves about 17 counties and they keep 32 vials on hand just in case.

"Occasionally, we'll have multiple snake bites. They kind of come in bunches. When that happens we contact the vendor and they fly them out," said Dawson.

The hospital can get doses of Crofab the same day they need them.

If you are bitten by a rattler, get to the emergency room immediately. You can drive to the hospital as long as you weren't bit near your neck. Try to stay calm and take off clothes or jewelry near the bite.

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