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Health Issues

Snake Bites

​The United States has 120 species of snakes. Only 20 are poisonous. Almost every state has at least one species of poisonous snake. The only states that don’t are Maine, Hawaii, and Alaska. In some areas, snakes may invade playgrounds after heavy rains.

Flooding of snake burrows makes snakes look for drier ground. All snakes can bite, but snakes generally try to avoid people when they can. Although a snake bite from a poisonous snake is a serious injury, deaths from poisonous snakes are unusual. Some poisonous snakes are rattlesnakes, copperheads, coral snakes, and cottonmouth water moccasins.

What to Look For:

  • Two small puncture wounds about one-half inch apart (sometimes there may be only one fang mark)
  • Severe burning pain at the bite site
  • Rapid swelling
  • Discoloration (turns blue or red) or blood-filled blisters (may develop within 6 to 10 hours)
  • In severe cases, nausea, vomiting, sweating, trouble breathing, and weakness

First Aid Care for Snake Bites:

  • Get child and others away from the snake.
  • Keep the child quiet and the body part still to slow the spread of venom. The bitten arm or leg should be kept at or lower than the child’s heart. This will help keep the venom from spreading in the body.
  • Call EMS and the Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222).
Last Updated
First Aid for Families (PedFACTs) (Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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