Calls about snake bites quadruple in North Carolina

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The Carolinas Poison Center says the number of calls it's getting about snake bites has quadrupled over the same period from last year. A mild winter is likely the cause. (Shutterstock)

The Carolinas Poison Center says the number of calls it's getting about snake bites has quadrupled over the same period from last year. A mild winter is likely the cause.

In April, the center got 71 calls compared to 19 calls in April 2016.

WakeMed Hospital is also seeing an increase and has handled 23 cases so far in 2017. There were only 11 cases this time last year.

The copperhead is the most common venomous snake in North Carolina, but we also have cottonmouths, rattlesnakes (eastern diamondback, pigmy, and timber), and the coral snake.

The jump in bites is concerning many North Carolina residents, including Cary mom, Anna Howland.

"I'm definitely going to take more care with him (her son) when I'm walking on the trail near the lake," she said. "I know they can sometimes lie out in the sun just to enjoy it, so we'll definitely be more cautious."

But it's not just people that are in danger, their pets are too. A Cary veterinarian tells ABC11 she is treating one to four animals a day after they were bitten.

The Center says there are several things people can do to lessen their chance of being bitten:

-Check boots and shoes that are laying in the garage or outside before putting them on.
-Wear sturdy boots or shoes when outside, especially when gardening or hiking.
-Watch your step when outside and watch where your hands go-use a flashlight if it's dark.

-Back away slowly if you see a snake. Don't try to pick it up or move it. Snakes can bite when they feel threatened.

If bitten by a snake, call Carolinas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. A hospital visit may not be necessary.

If bitten, there are also some things people can do to make the situation worse. If bitten DO NOT:

-Cut the bitten area and suck the venom out. This can cause infection.
-Ice the area. Icing causes additional tissue damage.
-Apply a tourniquet or tight bandage. It's better for the venom to flow through the body.
-Attempt to catch or kill the snake. You might get bitten again.

Anyone in North Carolina can order a free snake prevention pack from Carolinas Poison Center by visiting www.NCPoisonCenter.org and clicking on "Shop Education Materials."

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snakewild animalsnorth carolina newsCharlotte
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