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ON Press: Rattlesnake bites woman

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Tue Jul 12 10:38:44 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

SUN TIMES (Owen Sound, Ontario) 05 July 11 Rattlesnake bites woman
An Elora woman was bitten after she reportedly tried to pick up a rattlesnake near Miller Lake Saturday, but she suffered only a superficial wound, Bruce Peninsula OPP said Monday.
The woman was bitten shortly before noon on Saturday near Tammy's Cove Rd., Const. Nigel Heels said in a news release. Police who went to the scene "observed the approximately 45- centimetre-long eastern massasauga rattlesnake. It was reported that the injured female attempted to pick up the snake," not realizing it was a massasauga rattler which, according to the Grey Bruce Health Unit, is the only venomous snake in Ontario.
The 46-year-old woman was taken to hospital in Lion's Head where she was treated for "minor, superficial wounds," police said.
The hospital at Lion's Head is home to the area's antivenin supply, said Trent Fookes, the corporate director of pharmacy for the five Grey Bruce Health Services hospitals. It has 12 vials on hand, which is "enough to get (treatment for) multiple bites started," he said in an interview.
How much serum is used at any time "depends on the bite," he said. "The massasauga rattler is kind of a strange snake. It doesn't always inject venom. So if it's what they call a dry bite and isn't envenomated then you don't have to treat at all. And then there's degrees of envenomation and a severe bite would require up to 10 vials in one patient at one time."
If more antivenin serum is required locally, the hospital gets in touch with West Parry Sound Health Centre, which coo rd i nat e s a program under which the serum is "stashed around the province." Because of the cost not every hospital has a supply, Fookes said.
He didn't have a price at hand but the cost has gone down "considerably" because the province has changed the type of serum it uses.
"The previous antivenin that we had two years ago and last year, it was multiple thousands of dollars per vial . . . we switched products to one that's more readily available. It's actually used through a lot of southern (United) States where they have a lot of venomous snakes and so it's economies of scale. It's higher production so it's a little lower cost. My guess is a few hundred dollars a vial," he said.
Rattlesnake bites aren't common, but aren't unknown in the area, Fookes added. As far as he knew GBHS hospitals dealt with two eastern massasauga bites last year -- one at Lion's Head and one at Wiarton. "Midland, they're part of our group as well, they typically get a couple or three a year."
The West Parry Sound Health Centre's website has a section dealing with Ontario's depot program. It says, among other things, that "seeing a massasauga rattlesnake in the wild is a unique and very special life experience -- Enjoy it safely!"
Under a section headed "What if I get bitten?" the first advice is "Don't panic!"
"Not all bites result in venom being injected. One quarter of all rattlesnake bites are 'dry' bites," it says.
And those cowboy movies that show people hauling out Bowie knives, cutting an X into the skin at the site of a bite and sucking out the venom have got it dead wrong, the website says.
Rattlesnake bites woman


   

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