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  • Scripps Health

What To Do, and Not Do in Case of a Snake Bite

Do not wait for symptoms to appear, call 911

Don’t let fear of snakes stop you and your family from hiking or biking the trails as the days heat up and sunlight lingers.

While you should stay away from venomous snakes, you are more likely to die from a lightning strike than from a snakebite. Of the 7,000 to 8,000 people in the United States bitten annually by venomous snakes approximately five die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The number of deaths from a venomous snake bite would be much higher if people did not seek medical care, according to the CDC.

To stay safe, arm yourself with prevention and protection tips.

“Educate yourself, be smart and make good choices, but understand that you are pretty unlikely to be harmed by a snake,” says Christen Benke, DO, a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Del Mar. “If you do get bit, hospitals are well-equipped with antivenom procedures. Snake bites rarely result in fatalities, especially if you know how to respond.”

Symptoms of venomous snakebite

Snakes are most active during warmer months. In San Diego County, snake season typically spans from spring through fall.

If you are bit by a snake, stay calm and act quickly. Severe pain, swelling and color change at the site and lightheadedness are symptoms of a poisonous bite.

Other symptoms include:

  • Puncture marks at wound site

  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

  • Labored breathing

  • Rapid heart rate, weak pulse, low blood pressure

  • Disturbed vision

  • Metallic, mint or rubber taste in the mouth

  • Increased salivation and sweating

  • Numbness or tingling around face and/or limbs

  • Muscle twitching

Call 911 immediately