Cost of snakebite therapy may squeeze victims' wallets

Cost of snakebite therapy may squeeze victims' wallets
Hospital care, treatment can top $50,000 for venomous snake encounter.

(HealthDay) -- It goes without saying that bites from venomous snakes can be painful and dangerous, but they can also be very expensive, an expert warns.

Medical bills of $50,000 or more are not uncommon for a person bitten by a venomous snake, said Jill Heatley, an associate professor of at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The total cost includes hospitalization, which can last from one day to several weeks, treatment of damaged tissue, and antivenin therapy, which can run into the thousands of dollars.

Unusually warm temperatures and plenty of rainfall this spring means that some areas of the United States could see higher populations of snakes. People should be aware of this when they and their pets are outdoors, Heatley said.

"The thing to remember about snakes is that, generally, they want to be left alone. They are probably more afraid of you," she said in a university news release.

Because they're inquisitive, pets may be at increased risk for snakebites. Dogs usually suffer bites to the face or nose, while cats tend to get bitten on their paws, Heatley noted.

"The area that has been bitten will usually begin to swell almost immediately, and that's a telltale sign to look for," Heatley explained.

A bitten pet requires immediate treatment because snake venom can spread quickly inside the animal, and kidney failure can result in 12 to 24 hours.

"One of the questions we often get is, how can you tell a venomous snake from a harmless one?" Heatley said. "The answer is that it's difficult because there are numerous types of that are not venomous that look very similar to a venomous one."

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about venomous snakes.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What to do if you are bitten by a snake

Dec 01, 2010

Should you be the victim of a snakebite, the best thing you can do is get to a hospital as quickly as possible, according to a new review article from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS). Curren ...

Snake venoms have not revealed all their secrets

Mar 23, 2011

For several decades, snake venoms have been used in pharmacology to make new drugs. But a French team of pharmacologists, clinicians, systematists and conservation biologists, headed by Nicolas Vidal of the ...

Venom tears: Snake bites can turn out to be groovy

May 13, 2011

Many people worry about the manner of their death. Death by car accident, death by cancer and death by gunshot are some of the more dreaded ways to go. No less awful is the prospect of death by snakebite. ...

Health check on England's only venomous snake

Mar 29, 2011

Snake experts from Natural England, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Oxford University have teamed up to perform a vital health check on Britain’s only venomous snake, the adder, following worrying ...

Recommended for you

How can we help manage eating disorders?

5 hours ago

These guidelines are for the clinical management of eating disorders They are intended to provide current evidence based guidance on the assessment and treatment of people with eating disorders by psychiatrists and other ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.