ATHENS, Ga. — Warning: Watch where you step this summer – snakebites are on the rise.
The Georgia Poison Control Center told Channel 2's Craig Lucie that they've seen 55 snake bites so far this year.
In 2016, there were more than 500 snakebite calls.
The center said the earliest snakebite on record in 2017 happened in the first few days of the year.
Lucie also met a snake bite victim in Athens Wednesday who knows it could have been much worse.
Mitchell Jeffords considers himself lucky despite spending three days in the hospital after a copperhead strike near a local lake.
“It swelled up to almost foot long circumference,” Jefford said.
Doctors monitored his swelling to see if he would need antivenin which patients receive after a snake digs its fangs into your skin. Doctors say Jeffords never needed it.
“They give me fluids for dehydration (and) blood thinner; took (my) blood pressure; kept (an) eye on me,” Jefford said.
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Dr. Gaylord Lopez, with the Georgia Poison Control Center, said the facility already has received 55 snakebite calls.
Lopez told Lucie the costs involved with treating a venomous snakebite.
“At the min patients require six to eight vials and (at) $20,000 a vial that can add up quickly and then you have to add up (the) intensive care unit stay (and) doctor(s') fee so you are talking about large six-figure figures,” Lopez said.
Lucie asked Lopez exactly what you should do if you are bitten. He says the answer is very simple.
“The key is don't worry about cutting or sucking the venom out,” Lopez said. “We tell people the best antidote for a snake bite is a set of car keys. Get to the nearest emergency room and get yourself treated.”
Lopez says we didn't really have a winter and they had their first snakebite call the first week in January, which is a record for them.
More than a third of their snake bite calls are copperhead bites, which he says is good since they are the least venomous of the four dangerous snakes in Georgia.