Two snake bites in a week beg the question: Do we have enough antivenom?
Here at your community newspaper, we keep our 911 emergency communications scanner on 24/7.
In just one week, local emergency responders have been called to two snake bites.
The second report was of a woman being bitten by a snake Friday in Gallagher Township and prompted a call to Geisinger Medical Center’s Lifeflight medical helicopter and reportedly a trip to Geisinger’s regional trauma center in Danville.
We’re pretty sure we heard there was no antivenin at two area hospitals.
That affirms what we’ve been told: Local hospitals do not keep much snake bite antivenom on hand … here in an area known for its famous rattlesnake hunts.
Why? Too expensive.
Reports indicate one vile of snake bite antivenom costs a hospital about $2,300, but it takes four to six vials given intravenously over time to effectively treat.
We read the report of a guy being bitten in San Diego, Calif,., and his hospital bill after all was said and done was $153,161, including $83,341 in pharmacy costs.
Every year some 100,000 people die all over the world after being bitten by a venomous snake. Depending on the toxicity of the venom and how much venom is injected into the body, a snakebite will cause tingling, muscle weakness, nausea swallowing difficulties, excess saliva and potentially fatal breathing problems.
To avoid becoming part of that statistic, a snakebite victim must immediately go to a hospital for antivenom treatment. If the patient is brought in due time and, of course, if the hospital has the corresponding antivenom in stock, there’s an almost 100 percent chance he or she will survive.
As you might have guessed, the prevailing reason why so many people die from venomous snakebites, even though a hospital is nearby is because there isn’t enough antivenom to spare.
Maybe our local hospitals need to keep more antivenom in stock. Parts of our area, after all, have a significant snake population.
Combine that with the mountains and miles and miles of hiking trails here, too, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.