Venomous snake bite victims showing up at local emergency rooms

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 7/01 7:11 pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - Venomous snakes are making their presence felt by sending both people and family pets to the emergency room.

It's Tuesday morning at the River Institute for Veterinary Emergencies and Referrals and doctors are checking up on a dog that was recently bit by a venomous snake. But that dog was only one of several that have recently come through the door with a serious snake bite.

"We see a lot of snake bites. Coming up on the Fourth of July, we start seeing more at that time. We sometimes see as many as seven or eight snake bites on the holiday," said RIVER Hospital Director Dr. Sallye Gregg.

Signs of venomous snake bites on dogs include:

  • Bloody fang marks.

  • Swelling and discoloration near the bite marks.

  • Inability to walk if the venom is highly concentrated in the leg.

  • Whimpering if the pain is too severe for the dog to bare.

Copper head snakes are usually the culprit. Their venom destroys tissue. Which is why some dogs have to be placed into a hyperbaric chamber for treatment.

"What happens when the venom goes in, it causes a lot of swelling in that area and blocks off blood flow so you're not getting oxygen to to those tissues and the tissues die. So the hyperbarc treatment prevent tissue from dying," Gregg said.

Cases involving rattle snakes are more severe and require anti-venom along with more intensive care. But where your dog is bitten can be the difference between life or death.

"The worst place would be inside the mouth or on the tongue because it's like an IV injection. Jugular vein or right on here neck would also be bad," Gregg said.

Toy dogs and tiny puppies are more likely to die from a venomous snake attack because the venom is too much for their tiny bodies to handle.

"Sometimes a snake sees that as food and their actually going to venomate that dog thinking it's going to be a meal," Greg said

Animal experts say it's a good idea to keep your dog on a close leash along walking trails. They also suggest keeping an eye on dogs that are allowed to play in the yard. Allowing a dog to freely roam on a trail or stay in unsupervised in a backyard can lead to an expensive trip to the animal emergency room.

But animals aren't the only recent victims of snake attacks.

According to Erlanger Hospital officials, a small boy was admitted to the hospital on Monday after being bitten by a Copper Head snake near the Ocoee River. Doctors say the boy is still being treated and is expected to make a full recovery. (Picture of snake bite victim under slideshow)

Erlanger Officials say the boy is one of five children that have recently been admitted into the hospital for a venomous snake bite.

Seven adults have also recently been treated for snake bites at Erlanger while only one person is reported to have been treated for a snake bite at Parkridge Hospital.



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