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Snake season is in full gear in CTX

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Posted at 9:27 PM, Aug 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 08:41:20-04

The heat is a haven for snakes in Central Texas and over the last month, local emergency rooms are seeing an increase in snake bite patients. 

Central Texans have seen them where we live, work and play. 

"It happened so fast I didn't see it strike," said Meleah Withers.

Withers had a confrontation with a copperhead in front of her Hill County home.

"I was pulling grass in front of the hedges. I had the kids and rushed into the house because they were right there beside me," said Withers.  

One fang hit her right hand but Withers is a registered nurse and knew exactly what to do.

"Rushed to the emergency room," she said. "It took pretty much a solid month to feel 100 percent."

Cameron Park Zoo Herpetologist Zachary Byrne says the summer months bring out the snakes in Central Texas.

"If they want to get cooler they have to go into the shade so as the weather starts to heat up you're probably going to start to see more wild snakes coming out to bask," said Byrne.

He says snakes seek areas with ample food sources and like water.  Most bites happen on the hand or arm.  Fellow nurse Melissa Dorsch says her coworker is one of many who have come to the ER with a bite. 

At least four people last month were admitted overnight to Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest.  Some simple steps can keep you from a more serious injury after a snake bite.

"The first thing you need to do is make sure you and no one else is in danger," said Dorsch.

"You have to stay calm.  The more upset you get, your blood pressure gets up and your heart rate gets up and you're just moving venom faster," she said.

The final step is to stay still.  Keep the bite wound at or below your heart to stop the flow of venom and never apply a tourniquet or ice. It could damage the tissue.  

"It's warm outside and especially kids want to run around barefoot.  Just be careful," said Dorsch.

Nurse Withers and her family is doing just that.

"I'm definitely more cautious.  Checking things out and beating the bushes," said Withers.

Snake experts say you can avoid them by clearing out debris on your property that could attract mice or other rodents.  Once the weather gets cooler, they will hibernate.

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