Woman visiting Chapel Hill bitten by snake and has issues getting anti-venom

Josh Chapin Image
Monday, July 25, 2022
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A woman visiting Chapel Hill was bitten by a snake while visiting her family Monday.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A woman was bitten by a snake while visiting her family in Chapel Hill this week.

When the family went to the hospital, they said there was no anti-venom readily available.

"It could be dangerous," said Ellen Zhu. "You have to be cautious and realize this kind of thing can happen."

Zhu, whose aunt was bitten, posted her story to Next Door because she wanted others to know the story.

She said her aunt was working in her backyard Monday morning when what they think was a copperhead appeared.

They tried urgent care, but they were then directed to the emergency room.

"Urgent care is the first place I thought of, but they don't have this," Zhu said. "Hospitals don't have stock so you have to be prepared for this thing to happen."

The family said the hospital called poison control and eventually they were able to get her aunt something.

"If you live on the property, people think their homes are safe but if you live on a property like mine, there are a bunch of wild animals around and they can badly hurt you," Zhu

said. "I see snakes in my yard, I see racoons, and hawks hanging around."

UNC Health said its emergency department has anti-venom available but not every snakebite requires it.

"Our providers will consider multiple factors before administering anti-venom, including whether the patient is a good candidate for anti-venom, the severity of the bite, risk factors and more," said a spokesperson. "Anti-venom is most often used when there are very serious, systemic symptoms."

Zhu's aunt is feeling better now after a few days.

Most insurance companies cover some part of the cost of the anti-venom, but Ellen said her aunt is visiting from overseas and will likely not be covered.

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