Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
A venomous (poisonous) snake bite is a bite or a puncture wound made by a
snake that is capable of injecting, secreting, or spitting a toxin into the
penetrated skin wound, mucus membranes or the eyes where the toxin can be absorbed.
In North America, there are about 25 species of snakes able to secrete toxin.
However, non-native poisonous species are present in zoos and held in private
homes or other areas by snake collectors. Consequently, almost any type of
venomous snake bite can be encountered in the US. About 7,000 snake bites are
reported in the US per year, but because snake bites are not required to be
reported, it is estimated that up to 45,000 bites per year may occur with about 8,000 by
poisonous snakes. The most common venomous snakes in the US are rattlesnakes,
copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins, and coral snakes.
What is a nonvenomous (nonpoisonous) snake bite?
A nonvenomous (nonpoisonous) snake bite is a bite or puncture wound made by a
snake that is incapable of secreting a toxin. This should be distinguished from
a dry bite. A dry bite is a bite by a venomous snake that does not inject any
toxin. Even bites that are from a nonvenomous snake or are dry need to be
evaluated as they can lead to significant tissue damage or infections.
The symptoms of a venomous snakebite depend on the type of toxin(s) secreted
into the bite or puncture wound, and in part, on how much toxin is present in the
tissue. The types of symptoms produced can be grouped into four groups:
on heart tissue
Neurotoxins: act on nervous system tissue
Cytotoxins: act on
tissue at the site of the bite or on tissue that directly absorbs the toxin
toxins may cause more than one of these effects. Because of the various
symptoms that can occur with venomous snake bites, the potential signs and symptoms to look for, as
listed by the CDC include the following:
Labored breathing (in
extreme cases, breathing may stop altogether)
salivation and sweating
Numbness or tingling around the face and/or limbs
Symptoms from these toxins are somewhat variable and may occur quickly or
they may be
delayed for hours, depending on the toxin type and the amount absorbed. In
general, small children are more vulnerable to snake bites because the relative
larger amount of toxin absorbed in relation to their smaller body size can make
the toxin effect more potent.
Identification of the snake helps emergency health care professionals to both anticipate the
potential symptoms, and it allows for more rapid and appropriate treatment of the venomous
snake bite. A detailed description of the snake, a picture of the snake, or the snake itself
(dead) will help identify the
type of snake and the type of toxin. Time should not be wasted, however, in transporting the
patient to an appropriate health care facility and do not put others in jeopardy of getting