1-Year-Old Bitten By Rattlesnake Recovering At Cook Children’s
Four kids treated at medical center for snake bite this week
About one minute outside was all it took for 1-year-old Harrison Bakke to be bitten by a baby rattlesnake. It happened just three feet from the door of his home in Abilene, Texas on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. He’s currently being treated at Cook Children’s.
This is the fourth patient treated for a snake bite at Cook Children’s this week and the fifth this month. According to the Cook Children’s Trauma registry, a total of 14 kids have been seen at the medical center for snake bites this year. Since 2010, 167 children have been treated for a snake bite.
Erin Bakke, Harrison’s mom, said she had just walked out of the room when her 3-year-old daughter opened the back door and both children stepped outside to play. Within no time, Erin heard Harrison crying. She ran outside and saw her son’s right hand bleeding.
She also saw the snake. Erin pulled both children inside and called 911. The fire department arrived to kill the snake and an ambulance took the little boy to an area hospital where he was administered the inititial doses of antivenom.
Harrison was then flown to Cook Children’s. He has received a total of 24 doses of CroFab at the time of this article's publication and is currently receiving two vials of CroFab (antivenom) every six hours. Surgery was also performed on his hand to make two small incisions to allow blood and fluid to drain from Harrison’s hand and reduce the swelling.
“A whirlwind would be the best phrase that for me would describe everything that’s happened,” Erin said. “We spent the first two hours at Abilene Regional Medical Center and it felt like we were there for 15 minutes. Everything was so chaotic, but at the same time everybody has done their job to keep our son healthy. I’m so thankful for everyone who has taken care of Harrison and the quick response.”
Erin and her husband, Michael, both run and walk in the neighborhood and have never seen a snake in the area. She said they live in a suburban area of Abilene and there’s not a lot of construction. Erin said she can’t believe this has all happened so fast because she only took her eyes off her children for such a short time before they made their way outside.
Texas Parks and Wildlife offers these tips for discouraging snakes from coming into the yard:
- Removing their shelter is one of the most effective ways of discouraging them.
- Eliminating rock piles, brush piles, and areas of tall grass will cause snakes to seek a more suitable habitat.
- Store lumber, wood piles and other debris around the home at least 18 inches off the ground.
- Controlling insect and rodent populations in the area will also help to discourage snakes by eliminating their food supply. Snakes will sometimes enter houses, barns and other buildings because they are attracted by the presence of rodents and insects as well as by the cool, damp, dark shelter provided by these buildings.
- To keep snakes out of houses or other buildings, you must seal off all entry points. Snakes usually enter a building at or below ground level.
- For this reason, all openings around water pipes, electrical outlets, doors and windows should be sealed. Any holes in masonry foundations around the home should also be sealed off with mortar.
- Hardware cloth or sheet metal can also be used to seal holes in wooden buildings or siding.
- As the weather heats up and kids are out of school, the opportunity for kids encountering snakes increases.
"If you ignore a snake, more than likely, the snake will avoid you,” Dr. Shelton said. “But kids being kids, that’s sometimes easier said than done. Talk to your children about staying away from the snake. Don’t try to pick it up or kill it. Teach your child not to touch it or walk near it. Children should stand still when they spot a snake, then turn around slowly and walk away. Usually, the snake will crawl away into the bushes.”
Sharon Evans, Trauma/Injury Prevention Outreach Coordinator at Cook Children’s, says it’s not just live snakes that pose a threat either.
"We’ve seen bites that occurred after a snake was killed. Often the parents or kids want to get a closer look at the ‘dead’ snake and the head still had the reflex to bite,” Evans said.
As the warm weather approaches, this is a good opportunity for parents to talk to their children about snake safety.
Here are nine tips to start the conversation with your child:
- Don't touch a snake.
- Don't try to kill a snake.
- Ignore the snake if you see it.
- Wear closed-toe shoes in wooded areas.
- Don't put fingers under rocks or crawl under houses or other structures.
- Don't canoe or boat under limbs on rivers, streams or lakes.
- Avoid edges of lakes, streams and rivers where vegetation is high.
- Instruct your children to notify you if they see a snake.
- If bitten by a snake, seek medical help immediately. DO NOT open the wound or try to suck out the venom.
The initial evaluation of a patient bitten by a snake includes the “A-B-Cs” (airway, breathing, circulation) and vital signs. The wound is then examined for swelling, discoloration and bleeding. Signs that the antivenom is needed include:
- Respiratory distress
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding from nose, skin or gums
- Tingling or prickling sensations
- Abnormally low blood pressure
- Faster than normal heart rate.
The recommended initial dose of CroFab (antivenom) is 4-6 vials diluted in 250 cc of normal saline, which is infused intraveneously over an hour. The CroFab is initially given slowly over the first 10 minutes to observe for signs of a hypersensitivity reaction. If no reaction occurs, the infusion rate can be increased to 250 cc per hour until completioni.
CroFab is most effective if given within 4-6 hours of envenomation. CroFab dosages are not adjusted based on a child's weight or age because the antivenom dosage should refect venom load of the snake bite rather than patient size.
Maintenance dosing of CroFab is normally two vials every six hours for a minimum of three more doses (6, 12, 18 hrs after loading dose) to prevent recurrence of toxicity.
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