Rattlesnake Bites on the Rise – Watch Where You Step, Says UArizona Poison Center

May 8, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. – Warm weather may lead to more outdoor activities, but be aware of rattlesnakes, cautions the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center (AzPDIC), located in the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.

Warming temperatures bring a more active rattlesnake population. Arizona and Texas have the most types of rattlesnakes in the United States, with Arizona seeing as many as 350 such snakebite cases a year.So far this year, 36 rattlesnake bites have been reported to AzPDIC, with each month having more than the previous month. Twenty-four of those bites occurred in April alone, up from nine in March.

“We’re well into rattlesnake season here in Arizona,” notes Steve Dudley, PharmD, DABAT, director of AzPDIC. “It’s not only hikers who need to be wary; home gardeners should be cautious as well. Roughly 25% of our rattlesnake bites happen to people gardening or doing yardwork.”

“Rattlesnakes don’t practice social distancing,” warns Laura Morehouse, MPH, CHES, poison education specialist. Be on the lookout for rattlesnakes – whether on the hiking trails or your own backyard. If you encounter a snake, give it plenty of space. “And remember that a rattlesnake does not always rattle before it strikes,” Morehouse adds.Laura Morehouse, MPH, UArizona poison education specialist

If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, get to a hospital immediately for laboratory work and potentially antivenom. “Rattlesnake bites can cause tissue damage, bleeding risks, or both. You can’t necessarily tell if you are at high risk of serious bleeding just by looking at where you were bitten,” Dr. Dudley advises.

The best way to treat a rattlesnake bite is to prevent one altogether. Be careful where you step and pay attention to where you put your hands and feet. Do not approach or try to handle snakes, even if they appear to be dead. Finally, know the peak activity times for rattlesnakes. In the summer, rattlesnakes are most active in the early mornings and evenings, center experts advise.

AzPDIC helps hospital staff manage an average of 147 rattlesnake bites annually. AzPDIC provides its services for every county in Arizona except Maricopa, which has its own poison center.

Call 1-800-222-1222 24/7/365 with questions regarding this or any other poison, drug or chemical exposure.

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AzPDIC Staff Contacts:
Steve Dudley, PharmD, DABAT
Director
dudley@pharmacy.arizona.edu

Laura Morehouse, MPH, CHES
Poison Education Specialist
morehouse@pharmacy.arizona.edu

NOTE: Images available at – https://arizona.box.com/s/ku6f8vd628s0tqyb1vgmyk2m4a77okit

About the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is a center of excellence at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. The center is staffed by specially trained pharmacists and is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). The center offers a public health service and provides a training site for students and health-care professionals. For more information: azpoison.com.

About the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is the premier pharmacy college in the Southwest, and one of the top in the nation, focused on drug discovery, toxicology, pharmaceutics, health outcomes and sciences, pharmaceutical education and research through interprofessional training and collaborative public/private partnerships. Preparing pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists in undergraduate, professional, graduate and post-doctoral programs, the college embraces an entrepreneurial spirit, providing tailored educational opportunities to broaden students' experiences. Established 72 years ago as the first health sciences college at UArizona, the college has a long history of improving science and health, both in Arizona and around the world. It is currently ranked No. 8 among the nation’s 143 colleges of pharmacy by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. For more information: pharmacy.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube).

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona, the greater Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research and outreach. A major economic engine, Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).

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