Copperhead bite - page 2

We live in a very snakey area. Have killed 100 plus Copperheads in our yard in 5 years and every now and then a Rattlesnake. We have all been lucky not to have been bit, but we are careful and lucky.... Read More

  1. by   c.wicks
    1: J Trauma. 1996 Aug;41(2):219-21. Related Articles, Links

    Conservative treatment of copperhead snakebites without antivenin.

    Whitley RE.

    Surgical Associates of Richmond, VA 23235, USA.

    Polyvalent antivenin remains the most recommended treatment of crotalid envenomation, including copperhead snakebites. Because of the significant morbidity associated with antivenin therapy, some have proposed conservative therapy for less serious envenomations. Few if any studies have separated the treatment of the less serious copperhead bite from the more serious bite of a rattlesnake or a water moccasin. Fifty-five patients, including 12 children, with copperhead bites were treated over a 12-year period. All 55 patients were successfully treated conservatively without antivenin. Conservative treatment resulted in no deaths, limb loss, or residual disability. The mean hospital stay was 2.15 days compared with 3.9 days in patients with systemic symptoms. These data support a conservative approach to most copperhead envenomations and suggest that the treatment for copperhead bites should be segregated from the more serious rattlesnake and water moccasin snakebites.

    PMID: 8760527 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  2. by   funnygirl_rn
    [QUOTE][i]Originally posted by Traveler [[There aren't many people who can say that if their kids get thirsty while playing outside they can take a drink from the creek behind their house. It's that clean.

    --Traveler, originally grew up in Pennsylvania, and yes, as kids we drank from the creek too.....however, we didn't have to worry about snakes! Yikes! Yes, there was the occasional snake, but not many. I guess I am just so scared of snakes, I wouldn't know how to react seeing as many as you all do...probably would faint! Wishing you the best!
  3. by   gwenith
    Thank-you all for anwering this thread - I have an abidning interest in envenomation but the Australian experience is very different.

    Please anyone who is researching snake bite keep in mind that most of our poisonous snakes are Elapids. We have a Copperhead snake too but it is also an Elapid. The venom of our snakes is highly toxic and travels through the lymphatic circulation to the systemic circulation. This is why here our first aid is bandage and splint of the bitten limb. Our victims rarely display local tissue necrosis (except in the case of the Mulga Snake or King Brown) so delaying venom spread by confining it to teh site of the bite is not at problem and it is life saving because it prevents spread to central circulation.

    Our snakes usually have a mixture of pre-synaptic neurotoxins, post - synaptic neurotoxins, myotoxins, heamotoxins and other fractions that cause acute renal failure. They do not seem to contain primary cardiotoxins.

    We do have a policy of leave them alone but most of our snakes are shy. Having said that they can get tetchy in mating season and the Taipan has a particularly nasty reputation - but it is also a big snake (3 meters or 9 ft).

    I guess I just wanted to give you a warning for anyone who wants to travel outside of America to Australia or South east Asia - if you get bitten by a snake - bandage and splint the limb and get to the nearest hospital
  4. by   KaroSnowQueen
    I am of the opinion also that these snakes get used to people and hang around. We had copperheads and what Dad called "spreading vipers" as well as regular snakes around. One got to where it followed Dad all around the farm, in and out of the barns, etc. He did kill it when it followed him clear up to the front steps of the house.
    My granddad killed a copperhead on the other side of the driveway, it was four feet long. The only "spreading viper" I ever saw was in our basement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was WAAAAAAAAAAYYY out in the boonies in the farmhouse I grew up in.
    Thanks for reminding me why I moved to town when I grew up!!
    No info on snake bites, we tried to keep away from them!
  5. by   BadBird
    OMG how terrible!!! I am terrified of snakes, if a copperhead bit me I am afraid I would just drop dead from fright alone!!!! Where do you live so I don't make the mistake of visiting there? Why don't they use anitvenom anymore?
  6. by   funnygirl_rn
    Gwenith...there is a show called Animal Planet in the states and they did a show of some of the dangerous snakes of Australia. Boy, were some of them large and as you said...extremely lethal!

    Snakes scare me...dead or alive!
  7. by   redshiloh
    Traveler, what kind of plant are you using?
  8. by   Traveler
    "Traveler, what kind of plant are you using?"

    It is called Baker's Weed here locally. However, I have never been able to find it in any books. I was instructed on it's use by an old timey mountain lady and I have transplanted a whole patch of it by my well house for easy quick access.

    I have been told it is in the mint family because of the square stem. MY DH got bit by a Brown Recluse about 4 years ago. I feed the plant to the dogs and bunnies when they get bit, but not knowing what it was, didn't want to feed it to a person....LOL.

    I can tell you that he had a quarter size black area on his foot from the spider bite. I made a poultice and also had him soak his foot in the water from making the poultice and the area never opened up.

    As far as the dogs go, prior to using the Baker's Weed, they would swell for about 4 or 5 days after a Copperhead bite. Now I take several plants, roots and all, put them in a blender with a little milk, add some bacon grease for flavor and feed it to them. The swelling usually lasts a day or two.

    All I know is that it seems to help and certainly doesn't hurt. I did drop a plant by the Forest Service Thursday. One of their botanists is supposed to take a look at it and let me know what it is.

  9. by   P_RN

    I've heard of ecchinicea and plantain for snakebite, but never heard of baker's weed. Do you see it here?
  10. by   Traveler
    Nope, sure didn't see it. Pretty cool page though, I saved it. I have looked through many books. Hopefull the Forest Service will be able to find out. Heck, we pay their salary. I'll let you know when I find out.

    Someone inquired about the antivenin earlier. It is not routinely used on Copperhead bites anymore because there can be some pretty bad side effects with that and the venom isn't considered to be life threatening. It's the tissue necrosis later and nerve problems that tend to be the troublesome issues.

    I believe for all other pit vipers (Rattlesnakes and Cottonmouths) they still use it and also for Coral Snakes. These are the poisonous US snakes.