Snake Bites More Frequent This Summer Than Last In Maryland

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Summer always mean snakes are on the move in Maryland, and when people cross their paths, they sometimes get bitten.

Alex DeMetrick reports snakebites are up compared with last summer, and some of those snakes have been poisonous.

“Copperheads are fairly common in the area,” says Kevin Barrett, of the Maryland Zoo. “You can certainly find them in the surrounding counties of Baltimore.”

They are venomous, but normally not enough to be lethal.

If bitten by any snake, “remain calm,” says Angel Bivens, of the Maryland Poison Center. “You want to go ahead and wash the area if possible. Give the poison center a call and let our experts guide you.”

That call could save you a trip to the emergency room.

Run by the University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy, most bites are analyzed as harmless.

But if a snake is venomous, “you’ll have the bite marks, you’ll have pain and then swelling will start to progress,” Bivens says.

Last year in Maryland, 74 people had snakebites. Since June 1 of this year, there have been 52, 28 of them from copperheads.

Bites from timber rattlers, Maryland’s other poisonous snake, are slightly more venomous, but also rarer.

In either case, “you don’t want to do anything you see in the movies,” according to Bivens. We don’t want tourniquets, we don’t want to cut the wound. We don’t want to suck out the poison. We don’t want to apply ice.”

While copperheads may pose a risk to people, they actually help us stay healthy.

“These guys are really good at keeping rodent populations down, and that’s really been shown recently to help control the tick population and also control Lyme disease,” according to Barrett.

Just be careful where you step, or place your hands, especially in the woods and the garden. Snakes will continue to be active in the state through fall.

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