ATLANTA - The heat isn't backing down this summer, and neither are the snakes!
Nearly 400 people have been bitten by snakes in Georgia just this year.
"Of those, we're seeing more venomous snakebites," said Dr. Robert Geller, medical director of Georgia Poison Center. "Get up close and personal with snakes you're asking for trouble."
Geller has led the Georgia Poison Center for 31 years, and he has seen a steady increase year after year.
Year to date, there have been 392 snakebites reported. At this time last year, that number was 355.
The number of people needing antivenin has shot up: 98 so far in 2019. At this point last year, the number of people who needed antivenin was 79.
"About half of those snakebites in Georgia are going to be nonvenomous," Geller said.
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While there is no proof as to what's causing the rise in the number of snakebites, it could be one of two things. It's summertime, and the snakes like the heat. Also, it could just be our encroachment -- building homes where the snakes once lived.
Not everyone who gets bitten needs to be hospitalized.
"Usually these things are worst within the first three, four hours and (then) get better," Geller said. "If you see a snake, avoid it. Keeping a safe distance is always a better plan."
A small pet or child will have proportionately more venom in its system than an adult, but if you do get bit, stay calm and make the call.
"If you're immediately sick, call 911. If you're not immediately sick feel free to call the poison center," Geller said.
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