Friday, April 18, 2014

Table of Contents

Definition

Snake bites occur when a snake bites the skin, and are medical emergencies if the snake is poisonous.


Alternative Names

Bites - snakes


Considerations

Snake bites can be deadly if not treated quickly. Children are at higher risk for death or serious complications due to snake bites because of their smaller body size.

The right antivenom can save a person's life. Getting to an emergency room as quickly as possible is very important. If properly treated, many snake bites will not have serious effects.


Causes

Poisonous snake bites include bites by any of the following:

  • Cobra
  • Copperhead
  • Coral snake
  • Cottonmouth (water moccasin)
  • Rattlesnake
  • Various snakes found at zoos

All snakes will bite when threatened or surprised, but most will usually avoid people if possible and only bite as a last resort.

Snakes found in and near water are often mistaken as being poisonous. Most species of snake are harmless and many bites are not life-threatening, but unless you are absolutely sure that you know the species, treat it seriously.



Review Date: 01/13/2010
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)