It has been estimated that there are approximately 16,000 snakebites per year in the United States, with half that number being venomous snakebites. Deaths due to snakebite are between 50 and 100 people yearly. North Carolina has the highest incidence of hospital admissions for venomous snakebite in the 48 contiguous states. Other states with high incidence (10 or more hospitalizations per year) of venomous snakebite include: Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. South Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Florida are closely approaching these figures. Identification of the type of snake is critical for treatment. The snake, dead or alive, is most helpful for positive identification. If this is not feasible, a description, as accurate as possible, must suffice. NEVER handle dead snakes as the BITING REFLEX can still be present. IT VIPERS and CORAL SNAKES are the 2 groups that cause the most concern in the United States.






There are several identifying characteristics which separate the pit viper group from that of harmless snakes.


1. An INDENTATION ("pit") halfway between the snake's eyes and nostrils. This is a thermoreceptor organ, which aids the reptile in stalking warm-blooded prey.

2. HOLLOW RETRACTABLE FANGS through which the venom is injected.

3. VERTICAL PUPILS as opposed to the round pupils of harmless snakes.

4. ARROW-HEAD SHAPED HEADS versus the round, or egg-shaped heads found in the harmless group.


There are only 2 species in the United States. They are small snakes with bright RED, YELLOW, and BLACK rings. The pattern that indicates a venomous snake can be remembered by the old adage : "RED ON YELLOW KILLS A FELLOW - RED ON BLACK, VENOM LACKS". These snakes are more prevalent in the southeast, particularly in Florida. All snakebites of questionable type require immediate emergency medical care.
First aid: The use of a tourniquet is controversial. Proper application of a tourniquet that does not interrupt blood flow in the arteries is suggested. Tourniquets should not be used for minor bites of those from uncertain sources. When it is used, the tourniquet should be placed several centimeters above the bite and loosened every 15 to 30 minutes. Surgical measures are not recommended unless performed by a TRAINED person within 30 minutes of the bite. See a physician IMMEDIATELY. If possible, keep the affected extremity elevated. Remove all jewelry (rings, etc.) from the involved extremity. Treatment: The mainstay of medical management is with antivenom. This is given to neutralize the snake venom, but is only indicated in bites of moderate severity, as determined by the treating physician. Two types of antivenom exist: pit viper and coral snake. All bites require cleansing and debris removal. Tetanus shots must be current (within 5 years). Bacterial infection after 1-3 days of a snakebite is common. Oral antibiotics may be given as a preventative measure.


1. In the majority of cases, the absence of fang marks means envenomation has not occurred.
2. If there is envenomation, the puncture wounds usually ooze blood (nonclotting).
3. Very soon after a venomous bite, bruising generally appears around the punctures.
4. Immediate severe burning pain is experienced after pit viper bites.
5. DO NOT take chances - see a physician in ALL cases of snakebite of unknowntype.

12 Hip Dislocation
12 Hip Fracture
12 Insect Stings and Spider Bites
12 Human and Animal Bites
12 Shoulder Injury Fracture
12 Toxic Inhalations and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
12 Facial Injury Jaw Fracture and Dislocation
12 Kidney Injury
12 Knee Injury General Considerations
12 Knee Injury Contusion
12 Knee Injury Fracture
12 Knee Injury Sprain
12 Stab Wounds
12 Leg Injury Fractures and Contusions
12 Leg Injury Shin Splints
12 Lightning Injury
12 Oral and Tongue Injuries
12 Nasal Fracture or Contusion
12 Neck Injury General Considerations
12 Neck Injury Fracture
12 Neck Injury Spinal Cord Injury
12 Pelvic Bone Fracture
12 Puncture Wounds
12 Chest Injury Rib Fracture
12 Back Injury Sacrococcygeal Injury
12 Scorpion Bites
12 Abrasion Injuries
12 Shoulder Injury Clavicle Fracture
12 Shoulder Injury Strains and Sprains
12 Snakebite
12 Neck Injury Spinal Cord Injury
12 Abdominal Injury Ruptured Spleen
12 Foot Injury Toe Fracture and Sprain
12 Vaginal or Vulvar Injury
12 Drowning and Near Drowning


Abdominal Injury
Abdominal Injury: Contusion
Animal Bites
Ankle Fracture
Ankle Injury
Ankle Injury: Contusion
Ankle Sprain
Back Injury
Back Injury : Sacrococcygeal Injury
Back Strain
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Chemical Burns
Chest Injuries
Chest Injury: Aortic Rupture
Chest Injury: Hemothorax
Chest Injury: Myocardial Contusion
Chest Injury : Pneumothorax
Chest Injury: Pulmonary Contusion
Chronic Back Pain
Clavicle Fracture
Compression Fractures
Decompression Sickness
Disc Disease
Gunshot Wounds
Hand Injury: Fingertip Amputations
Head Injury
Liver Injury
Marine Stings
Muscle Strains
Rib Fracture
Ruptured Spleen
Shoulder Injury: A-C Separation
Spider Bites
Spinal Cord Injury
Sternum Fracture
Testicular Injury
Wrist Injury
hi Scuba Related Injuries
i Hand Injury Finger Amputaion
de Lecerations
de Cold Injury and Hypothermia
dd Dental Injury
xs Facial Injury
sdf Neck Injury
e Shoulder Injury Dislocation
e Ear Injury
ed Elbow Injury
de Elbow Injury Fracture
dfe Elbow Injury Nursemaids
ee Electrical Injury
de Eye Injury
ed Facial Injury General Considerations
fr Facial Injury Contusion
ed Hand Injury Finger Sprains
ded Fingernail and Toenail Injuries
dd Hand Injury Fractures
23 Head Injury Skull Fracture and Concussion
44 Chest Injury Myocardial Contusion
fde Heat Illness
ed Hest Injury Hemothorax
y Back Injury Disc Disease
;l High Altitude Illness

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