What is in this article?:
- Two rattlesnakes bite Georgia crop consultant scouting soybean field
- First ER visit didn't stop the venom
- What are the chances of getting bit by two venomous snakes?
- Speculation on cause
- It was a Sept. 10 around 1:30 p.m. in a soybean field a few miles south of Shellman in southwest Georgia where crop consultant Kevin Cotton was bitten by two rattlesnakes.
- In total, it took 26 vials of antivenin, two different ER visits and four nights in the hospital to start to get over the snake bites.
- Across the country there are 7,000 venomous snake bites annually. The majority of those bites happen to people who handle the venomous snakes regularly, like zookeepers and pet owners.
CROP CONSULTANT Kevin Cotton in soybean field near Shellman, Ga., Oct. 28, the same field where he was bitten by two timber rattlesnakes at the same time six weeks earlier.
What are the chances of getting bit by two venomous snakes?
Across the country there are 7,000 venomous snake bites annually, Jensen said, relatively low considering how many people live in the United States. Plus, the majority of those bites happen to people who handle the venomous snakes regularly, like zookeepers and pet owners, or to people trying to get a closer look or to kill the snakes.
Venomous snakes tap roughly 2,000 people who stumble upon them at the wrong place and wrong time, like Cotton. Again, the stats, Jensen said, likely only refer to one snake bite per person and not two bites from two snakes at the same time. Throughout the country, only six people die from venomous snake bites each year. In comparison, about twice as many die from lightning strikes and more than 30 people die each year from dog attacks and bites.
Jensen said for people who work outdoors, particularly in the Deep South where there are six species of venomous snakes, the risk for getting snake bit is obviously higher for them than for someone who works indoors all day. And in Georgia, only timber rattlesnakes and diamondback rattlesnakes are considered lethal or have caused deaths. The region’s coral snake is deadly lethal, but its shy nature and short fangs make it less of a danger. But Jensen noted that Georgia’s coral snake’s bite comes with a mild anesthesia mixed with toxin, meaning a victim could get bit by a coral snake and really not feel it immediately.
A copperhead, pygmy rattlesnake or moccasin bite can make you wish you weren’t bitten but likely won’t kill you and most often victims are not given antivenin for such bites. A healthy person bitten by these snakes is usually monitored until the body has time to fight the venom back.
“There is nowhere really in Georgia so far away from medical center that someone can’t get help in time to survive a venomous bite. But victims need to seek medical assistance immediately if they believe they have been bitten by a venomous snake,” Jensen said.
September, when Cotton got bit, is prime breeding season for pit vipers, which includes rattlesnakes, Jensen said. “If you were going to be bit twice, it would be this time of year, between August and October,” he said.