Sharp rise in snakebites reported in Georgia

by: Tom Regan Updated:

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ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned the Georgia Poison Center is seeing a sharp rise in emergency calls on snakebite victims.

There have been over 200 calls since January and officials expect that number to more than double to a record level by the end of the year.

"Obviously we've been getting a lot of rain. We haven't seen this much rain in a while and I think that it's driving the snakes out," said Poison Center Director Dr. Gaylord Lopez.

Lopez told Channel 2's Tom Regan that in the past three-and-a-half years, the poison center has handled 1,400 calls involving snakebites. Sixty percent of the calls pertain to venomous snakes.

"The ones we see mostly are copperheads and moccasins. Rattlesnakes are up there, too. We just had a couple of bites in the past two weeks," said Lopez.

Earlier this month, Channel 2's Jeff Dore was bitten on the hand by a suspected copperhead. Dore was hospitalized and was given anti-venom medication. He has fully recovered.

Lopez offered advice for those who believe they have been bitten by a snake.

"You need to get to a hospital right away. Don't try home remedies. Avoid medicines because they can interact with the snakebite and don't put ice on it. Ice can speed up venom travel through the system," said Lopez.

According to Lopez, venomous snakes often have triangular shaped heads and elliptical eyes. He quoted a phrase to remember snake skin coloring that indicates a venemous snake.

"It's an old saying, 'Red on black is a friend of Jack,' meaning it is non-venomous. 'Red touch yellow will kill a fellow.' That's probably a coral snake. That's one of the things we look out for," said Lopez.


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