St. Joe researching snakebites, anti-venom effectiveness

POSTED: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 6:03pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 9:39pm

The warmer weather has been welcomed in Central Texas but it also brings unwelcome visitors like snakes to your backyard.

"The summer months are really the peak of the snake bite season but they start out when the weather gets warm and we've already seen some snake bites this year," said St. Joseph's medical director of emergency services, Dr. Brandon Lewis.

Dr. Lewis says the majority of snakebite cases he sees are from Copperheads, which are venomous.

"Even though Copperheads typically don't kill you, they certainly can cause significant damage to the skin and the muscles in your body," said Dr. Lewis. "There are people who even have to have surgery from these bites."

In 2011, St. Joe treated 110 patients and because of the large number of snakebites they see every year, St. Joseph is helping to lead the way in anti-venom research.

"This year we're looking at a new study to see if the anti-venom that's out with Copperhead bites help or does not."

Right now there's only one anti-venom on the market and it can cost as much as $20,000 or more so Dr. Lewis and his team are hoping their research will help find a new method of treatment that's more effective and affordable.

"Knowing exactly what to do, when to do it and what's effective and what's not really goes a long way in helping to treat patients appropriately."

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