What to do with snake bites

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A snake bite can be scary, especially for a child. Being bitten by a poisonous snake can cause severe tissue damage and even death.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reports more than 20 species of snakes live in East Tennessee and two are poisonous: The Copperhead and the Timber Rattlesnake.

If your child is bitten by any snake, getting medical attention right away is important.

Dr. Katy Stordahl with the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital stopped by the WATE 6 On Your Side studios to share more about what parents should do with snake bites.

Signs & Symptoms of a snake bite:

  • May or may not be able to see tiny fang marks
  • Severe burning pain at the bite site
  • Rapid swelling
  • Discoloration (turns blue or red) or blood-filled blisters may take 6 to 10 hours to develop
  • In severe cases: nausea, vomiting, sweating, trouble breathing, and weakness

First Aid to provide initially:

  • Get child and others away from snake It can bite again
  • Keep child quiet and calm, limit activity helps prevent the spread of venom through the blood stream
  • Get child to hospital as soon as possible
  • Anti-venom needs to be given within in the first few hours of a poisonous snake bite. Don’t try to determine on your own if the snake is poisonous, leave that to the medical professionals.
  • Do NOT make an incision and apply suction This does not help, can make matters worse
  • Do NOT apply tourniquet or ice — It’s not helpful, can make it worse

*** NOTE: Do not try to capture it for identification.

***NOTE: Bites from baby snakes can be more dangerous because they can’t yet control their venom.

Hospital procedure:

Anti-venom should be given within four hours of bite. It’s a biological product used in the treatment of venomous bites or stings.

Be prepared for your child to stay in the hospital, as most need to be monitored for at least 24 hours after any kind of snake bite.

If they have been bitten by a poisonous snake, and given anti venom, they may be monitored for longer.

Doctors have to make sure body systems are working properly; and determine if they need additional doses of anti-venom.

In some cases kids can go into shock or even need more hands-on care in our intensive care unit until their bodies begin to perform normally again. It can be quite serious.

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