Medical Definition of Rattlesnake bite

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Rattlesnake bite: A poisonous bite by a member of the pit viper family. All rattlesnakes are venomous and secrete poisonous venom. Rattlesnakes are the main cause of death from snake bites in the United States.

The emergency treatment of rattlesnake bites is essential. With proper care, rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal. Do not use a tourniquet or bandage and do not attempt to suction out the wound by mouth. The affected part should be kept immobile and, if possible, below the level of the heart. Take the person with the bite immediately to the nearest hospital.

Hospital treatment of rattlesnake bites is with antivenom and care for the puncture wound itself and for any complications such as respiratory distress.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018