Copperhead snake bites on the rise in metro Atlanta

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ATLANTA,None —

Bill Murray was in the pool behind his Buckhead home when he encountered a copperhead snake, and he’s not alone this summer.

Doctors at Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital tell Channel 2’s Diana Davis they have seen an unusual amount of snake bites this year.

The snakes are not aggressive, but experts say the shy snakes can bite when someone invades their turf.

“I felt a sharp excruciating pain,” Murray told Davis.

Brandon Berk lives about a mile from Murray. He was bit while cleaning out the gutters of his home.

"I felt a sting on my finger and I looked up and saw two fang marks,” Berk said. “I’ve seen snakes but was not expecting that, especially not in Buckhead.”

Herpetologists at Zoo Atlanta say copperhead snakes are common in metro Atlanta. More than 200 bites have been reported to the Georgia Poison Control so far this year.

“There’s not as much water out there. They’re trying to find water. We’re watering our lawns and we have standing water around and they’re trying to find that,” Dr. Brad Lock
of Zoo Atlanta told Davis.

Lock said copperhead snakes often thrive in brushy areas and woodpiles.

Piedmont Hospital has treated six patients for copperhead bites this year. Not all patients need anti-venom but everyone needs quick emergency care, doctors said.

“The best thing to do is call 911. Don’t raise your leg. Don’t lower your leg. Keep it level with your body. Try to remain calm, that will prevent the blood from circulating too quickly,” Dr. Henry Siegelson said.

The best prevention against snake bites can be clearing away brush in your yard and wearing gloves. Don’t stick your hand in a wood pile without checking it first with a rake or shovel. Copperhead bites are rarely deadly but the treatment can be lengthy and expensive. Berk said his treatment included six vials of anti-venom and two nights in the hospital.