Fort Worth, Texas,
16:02 PM

Cook Children’s Already Seeing Snake Bites

Two kids have been bitten this year, one in April

Two children have already been treated for snake bites at Cook Children’s this year, including one child who was bitten this month.

From 2012 to present, 91 children have been seen at the medical center for snake bites. The most was in 2014 with 25 and last year staff saw 19 kids.

And as the weather heats up and kids are out of school, the opportunity for kids encountering snakes increases. From 2012 to 2016, 16 bites occurred in May, 26 in June and 23 in July.

Mark Shelton, M.D., an Infectious Disease doctor at Cook Children’s and an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, says it’s important to teach respect for snakes.

"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 of 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:

  1. Don't touch a snake.
  2. Don't try to kill a snake.
  3. Ignore the snake if you see it.
  4. Wear closed-toe shoes in wooded areas.
  5. Don't put fingers under rocks or crawl under houses or other structures.
  6. Don't canoe or boat under limbs on rivers, streams or lakes.
  7. Avoid edges of lakes, streams and rivers where vegetation is high.
  8. Instruct your children to notify you if they see a snake.
  9.  If bitten by a snake, seek medical help immediately. DO NOT open the wound or try to suck out the venom.

 *Data provided by the Trauma Registry of Cook Children's Medical Center, Fort Worth, Texas.

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