In the past two months, SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital – Shawnee has reported 12 snake bite patients so far this year, a big increase compared to five bites locally a year ago.

In the past two months, SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital – Shawnee has reported 12 snake bite patients so far this year, a big increase compared to five bites locally a year ago.

And for obvious reasons, no one wants to get bitten by a snake.

Not only will it hurt, treatment is expensive. The cost of Crofab, more commonly known as anti-venom, starts at $10,000 per vile and at minimum, it takes four to six to treat a venomous snakebite.

Snakebite season starts in late spring and tapers off in early fall, said Dr. A.C. Husen, the Emergency Department Medical Director at SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital - Shawnee.

Dr. Husen urges those who are bitten by a snake not to bring the snake to the emergency room because that will lead to another snakebite.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) recommends obtaining a description of the snake, such as triangle shaped head and specific markings.

The old wive’s tales of sucking the venom out or electrical treatment do not work and only cause more problems, he said.

Dr. Husen said to leave the wound at or below heart level, and if possible, clean out the wound.

“If there was venom with the bite, there will be signs,” Husen said. “There will be swelling, bruising and redness. The biggest thing for us here in the emergency room is to monitor the patient.”

The OSDH suggests keeping an eye on the bite area. If swelling continues and there is a burning sensation 15 to 30 minutes after the bite occurs, a venomous snake was likely involved.

Even though 25 percent of snakebites are dry, Dr. Husen said every suspected pit viper bite should be checked out at the emergency room.

According to the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, Oklahoma is home to 44 different kind of snakes, but only a few have venom. Snakes in Oklahoma are most active from April through October.

The venomous snakes of Oklahoma include the Western Massasauga Rattlesnake, Prairie Rattlesnake, Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Western Pygmy Rattlesnake, Copperhead and Cottonmouth.

Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information answers questions on snake or other animal bites 24 hours a day at 800-222-1222, or go to https://oklahomapoison.org/prevention/animals.

OSU agricultural services shares this Sunup video about snakes: