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Rattlesnake Season Hits New Mexico; Many Bites are Avoidable

PHOTO: Spring in New Mexico has sprung rattlesnakes from their winter dens, and what may surprise some people is that many rattlesnake bites are avoidable. Photo credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
PHOTO: Spring in New Mexico has sprung rattlesnakes from their winter dens, and what may surprise some people is that many rattlesnake bites are avoidable. Photo credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
May 11, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico's warming weather means rattlesnakes again are out during the day, and some people will get bitten.

But about half of bites are avoidable, according to Dr. Steven Seifert, medical director with the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center.

He says 50 percent of bites probably would not occur if the victims avoided the snakes, rather than approaching them.

Seifert says treating snakebites can be very expensive.

"You can count on, probably, at least a couple of thousand dollars per vial, and a typical rattlesnake envenomation will take somewhere between 10 and 20 vials of anti-venom," he points out.

Seifert says treatment can involve a stay in the intensive care unit and hospital bills can climb as high as $100,000.

He adds studies show that the majority of snakebite victims are men, and that removing a snake from in or around your home should be left to an animal-control professional.

Seifert stresses the animals go to great lengths to avoid humans, because they fear us as much we do them.

"We're a threat to the snake, so, they would very much prefer to, I think, avoid interaction,” he explains. “They're not aggressive, unless you're going after them and they feel threatened."

On average, Seifert says the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center treats about 100 rattlesnake bites each year.

He says deaths from the bites are rare – with about five fatalities each year in the U.S, resulting from several thousand bites.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM