Philip Local is Bitten by Prairie Rattle Snake
"I was doing some light yard work and cleaning up debris when I reached down to pick up a small pile of boards. I felt a poke, like I had reached into a cactus, with my right hand," said Slovek. "I bent down again to grab another pile, and I could hear the unmistakable sound of a rattlesnake. Then I could see the distinct brownish green skin pattern of a Prairie Rattler as it was burrowing under some other debris," continued Slovek. "When I looked at my right hand I could see four small holes about one inch apart on my ring and middle finger," explained Slovek. Upon realizing she had been bitten, she drove herself to Philip Hospital. "It was difficult to stay calm. About an hour after the bite, my hand was fairly swollen, and I felt a tingling sensation over my entire body," said Slovek. "I couldn't feel my face or my extremities. "Shortly after receiving the first course of anti-venom, my symptoms began to get better almost immediately," told Slovek. It took 32 doses of Anavip to treat Slovek.
Anavip is an equine-derived anti-venom. One course of anti-venom is ten vials and is administered one vial an hour until symptoms are relieved. Philip Hospital Business office states that it costs $39,000 for one course of Anavip anti-venom, consisting of the 10 vials. There is no such thing as an average amount of anti-venom needed for each rattlesnake envenomation, but on average, it takes one to five courses of Anavip anti-venom. The staggering cost per envenomation is anywhere from $39,000 to $195,000 just for the anti-venom, which does not include other fees such as lab work or hospital visits. We won't discuss if a helicopter is needed to get the victim to a medical facility.
Based on income, patients may qualify for Philip's Healthcare Community Benefits program, which can assist with payments of both lower-income patients and patients whose balance, after insurance payment, are so high that they cannot pay it.
Cindy in the Philip Hospital Business Office said, "No one will ever be turned away from emergency medical treatment based on their income level".
Each year South Dakota has at least one to two bites, usually in June, July, and August, with most bites occurring in counties along and west of the Missouri River.
Prairie Rattlesnakes tend to be most active in spring through fall but can tolerate cooler temperatures into the 50s. These rattlers can be found in urban and rural areas and like cluttered areas such as brush piles and piles of household debris, where they are more likely to find mice and prey items to eat.
By the grace of God, Prairie Rattlesnake bites are rarely lethal due to most hospitals in South Dakota having anti-venom on hand, but prevention still is the best practice here in South Dakota.
Be aware of your surroundings. If you encounter a rattlesnake, back away slowly, let it slip away, or walk carefully around it. No matter what type of snake it is, do not provoke or attempt to handle, trap or kill it. Before moving a brush or debris pile, take a four-foot-long stick and poke or shift the pile to ensure nothing is living under or near it.
Snake-bite preventive measures:
• Avoid tall grass and fallen leaves if possible.
• Avoid climbing on rocks or piles of wood.
• Be aware that snakes are active at night and in warm weather.
• Wear boots and long pants when working outdoors; snakes can bite through clothing and footwear.
• Wear leather gloves when handling brush and debris
• Make noise; snakes will avoid people if given enough warning.
• Use a long stick to disrupt and poke around the debris or leaf pile prior to picking them up, to scare any snakes from the pile .
If your dog, cat, or horse is bitten:
If a rattlesnake bites a dog or other pet, move the animal away from the snake and call your veterinarian immediately. If they do not have experience with rattlesnake bites, contact the Animal Poison Control Center at (800) 213-6680. Keep the animal calm and remove constricting items (e.g., collar, harness, horse bridle).
Do not cut the bite, and do not apply heat or ice.
If bitten by a rattlesnake, DO NOT:
Do not make incisions over the bite wound.
Do not restrict blood flow by applying a tourniquet.
Do not ice the wound.
Do not suck the poison out with your mouth.
These methods can very well create additional harm, amputations of limbs or other serious effects.
If bitten by a rattlesnake, DO:
Do Stay calm.
Do Call Dispatch via radio or 911.
Do wash the bite area gently with soap and water if available.
Do remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling.
Do immobilize the affected area.
Do keep the bite below the heart, if possible.
Do transport safely to the nearest medical facility immediately.
Frantic, high-speed driving places the victim at greater risk of an accident and increased heart rate. If the doctor is more than 30 minutes away, keep the bite below the heart, and try to get to the medical facility as quickly and safely as possible.
We have compiled information to help identify prairie rattlesnakes with their different color patters. Feel free to stop by the Pioneer-Review after July 11th for a complimentary color copy.