WILDLIFE – A girl struck by a small rattlesnake in the Dishman Hills Natural Area required three days of hospital care despite getting to Valley Hospital for treatment within 40 minutes.
The 17 year old girl stepped off the trail while hiking with a friend in the northeast corner of the Valley natural area near 8th Avenue on June 1 and thought she was stung on the ankle by a bee.
Her father said she had no warning -- perhaps she stepped on its tail -- and that it wasn't until after it struck that the small snake crawled a few feet away rattling.
The snake was only 12-15 inches long. Experts say random rattlesnake bites are extremely rare. Most snake bites are the result of people trying to catch or handle the snake.
Doctors administered antivenin, but the swelling continued to get worse for 20 hours all the way up to her knee.
Doctors were at the brink of resorting to surgery to relieve the pressure when the swelling began to subside.
Two weeks later, her leg is almost normal.
Doctors gave the family this insight on rattlesnake bites during the treatment:
- Don’t use a constricting bandage or tourniquet. “(The victim and her friend) wrapped it tightly with a handkerchief," the father said. "The doctor says this traps the poison in a small area where it can do more tissue damage.”
- Stay calm and don’t run. The girl ran about 200 yards to get to a car. "The doctor said it’s best not to get your heart pumping.
What the youths did correctly was to get to medical help as fast as possible, he said.
“Without quick treatment with antivenin, it could have been a lot worse.”