Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Snakebites

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Snakebites
« Reply #75 on: May 03, 2019, 05:16:30 PM »

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Offline Flash

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Re: Snakebites
« Reply #76 on: May 03, 2019, 05:35:52 PM »
https://wsed.org/snakebite-management-pre-hospital/
Therefore in responding to the article, what we folks that frequent BBNP and BBRSP might need is info on where best to go:
1) Does either park or Terlingua EMS keep any anti-venom about (probably not since the stuff expires, cost, etc.)?
2) Is Alpine Regional the best place to go for help?
If I am 2-hrs out via trail should I just walk on out? Frankly, other than advice about elevating (or not elevating) the bite site and the laundry list of what not to do, it looks like you've just got to go to the hospital. I'm interested in how to take care of myself or another during that period that may be hours long before I reach medical care.
- Flash

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Offline Txlj

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Re: Snakebites
« Reply #77 on: May 03, 2019, 09:52:35 PM »
A couple of years ago a friend was bitten in Fort Davis by a rattler. He was flown out of Alpine to Midland. The anti venom was flown in from El Paso.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Snakebites
« Reply #78 on: May 03, 2019, 10:53:16 PM »
A couple of years ago a friend was bitten in Fort Davis by a rattler. He was flown out of Alpine to Midland. The anti venom was flown in from El Paso.

That's good (or bad?) to know.

Every time someone mentions snakebite in Big Bend, I think of this old post from a decade or so ago: 

Quote from: Windchime
When Tom was bitten by a rattler a couple of years ago...the jury is out as to whether it was a Mexican Blacktail or a Diamondback...they gave him synthetic anti-venom which is good for Eastern Diamondback, Western Diamondback and, if my memory is correct, Mojave. Tom might want to refresh my memory here and add any recollection of anyone being bit up in the mountains...he has been in the pack 20 years or more. Not giving away his age...he must have been 15 years old when he got a job with the park :)

Haven't checked the chat page for awhile...

Thanks for not giving away my age -- I've been working in the park for the past 24 years and been in the park including the past 24 for a total of about 35 years of hiking in the Bend. Seen lots of snakes, jumped over a couple when I was going too fast to see them soon enough. Learned to slow down...and look. Even then, I still got bitten.

There's lots of good info on this thread that brings us to the conclusion that all those old field methods are out the window. When I was bitten, I was fortunately on the side of the road about 4 miles from headquarters.

Briefly stated, I was in the park ambulance within 20 minutes of being bitten, headed for Alpine. The park EMT called ahead to confirm that Alpine had antivenin on hand, otherwise it would have been Fort Stockton or Midland/Odessa. Bitten around 3:30 pm, laid in the emergency room in Alpine and didn't get the first antivenin until around 11 pm. CroFab was administered from Friday afternoon until the following Monday - total of 8 vials at about $3500 per vial. The main consideration if you are bitten -- have good insurance coverage! CroFab is made from the venom of five species of rattlesnake, including the Mojave, so it contains properties to neutralize hemotoxin as well as neurotoxin. My main problem came from the steroid injections they gave during the first five days in the hospital. I didn't know that steroids make some people retain fluid. Tuesday night, I didn't have abdominal capacity to hold the excellent meal my wife fixed, couldn't sleep because I couldn't get a deep breath, got up Wednesday morning and wife loaded me in the back of our truck and -- back to the emergency room. I had 30 extra pounds of fluid in my body, which had settled in my lungs which gave me pneumonia. From Wednesday til the following Saturday, I got respiratory treatments for the pneumonia and drank several gallons of cranberry juice as a diuretic to dump the fluid. By Saturday, I was 25 pounds lighter with a very clear urinary tract! They wanted to shoot me up with Lasix to get rid of the fluid and I opted to go the more natural cranberry juice route, which I know from experience to be an excellent diuretic.

CroFab is the current treatment of choice. If bitten in the wilderness, bend over, kiss your sweet a.........No, the main thing is to remain calm - not something most people could do because after about the first 30 minutes, the venom begins digesting your tissue and the pain is difficult to describe at best. "Excruciating" doesn't do it justice. Slowly getting out to transportation, trying to immobilize the affected limb - people ususally get bitten on the extremities - and getting to a hospital as soon as possible is the currently recommended method. Few people actually die from snakebite in this country - thank goodness we don't have fer-de-lance, at least in Texas. Venom is a potent digestive juice and basically begins dissolving muscle tissue. Tissue loss is relatively common around the site of the bite and toward the heart. Your body will eventually replace some of the muscle and you can exercise to rebuild your functionality. There is usually a lot of general damage to the cell structure and the flabby cells will retain fluid for weeks to months after the bite. Your body will attempt to replace the damaged tissue to some degree. Staying active, getting fresh air and excercise, and drink plenty of water to keep your tissues hydrated will facilitate recovery.

When our teenage son was volunteering for the trail crew, they were staying in Boot Cabin. He and a few others were outside playing darts when one of his darts fell next to the cabin foundation. He reached for the dart and felt a stinging pain and thought it was a scorpion. He noticed there were two puncture marks on his finger, looked into the crack to see what bit him, and saw a blacktail. He actually was able to keep his head and they were able to get him down from the Boot in about five hours. By 1 am, he was in the emergency room at Alpine. The best way to describe the apperance of his arm by that time was - take a look at Popeye. Fat hand, fat forearm, and a protruding elbow. Within a week, he was back at work and suffered no tissue loss. His was a mild envenomation by a small snake. Mine was a moderate to major envnomation by a snake that was at least three feet long that bit me on the inside of my right foot. My swelling reached past my groin. Neither of us had the tissue loss that you usually hear about. After about a year, my swelling was essentially gone and only occasionally do I have a wierd twinge at the site of the bite.

The best advice, slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of the place. Watch where you step and where you place your hands and feet (and your posterior - cactus sneak up on you from behind). Simply paying attention and thinking about what you are doing is the best way to avoid any kind of injury - not to mention enabling you to enjoy your hiking experience.

Tom Alex
Big Bend National Park Archeologist
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline fartymarty

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Re: Snakebites
« Reply #79 on: May 05, 2019, 11:47:59 AM »
Seems like so many are saying that an apple is not an orange, and then folks are concluding that an apple is not a fruit.

Case in point, a year or so ago a study said that organic food is no more nutritious than non-organic food. So some quit buying it because of that study. However, I think proponents of organic food were always saying that organic food was better for you not because of it's nutritional value, but rather it was less harmful to you because it didn't have pesticides in it or on it. I don't recall anyone saying it was more nutritious. So why study that?

Sorta the same thing with suction on a bite. All the research seems to be about whether any venom is removed by suction, and since none/insignificant amount is, they conclude that it's a worthless treatment. I never thought that suction would remove much if any venom. I did hope it would slow down the spread of venom. Similar to the rubber band helping to hinder the forward spread of venom by partially blocking the pathway ahead, the suction might be somewhat helpful in slowing it down from the rear. I've seen no studies with conclusions on the latter.
If someone has please post a link.

Regardless, being bit by a snake in a wilderness setting can be an upsetting experience and once the victim's thought process gets going on potential outcomes it could have a detrimental effect on heart rate and logical thinking.   I think the psychological effect of doing something that seems to give the victim some hope /control of the situation will be beneficial in slowing down the heart rate,  and thus a good thing that will outweigh any negative effects that a rubber band and a small suction cup can induce, at least until the victim is in the ambulance. Perhaps those that have been actually bitten can tell us what their mental response was at the time shortly after the bite, and whether they think I'm full of ...
...let's go with hot air and worthless non fact based opinion.
Fort Worth

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Offline dprather

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Re: Snakebites
« Reply #80 on: May 05, 2019, 12:08:38 PM »
This thread is an example of the good done by BBC. 

This thread reminds me that venomous snake bites are one of the risk variables that must be managed while backpacking the Bend.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Snakebites
« Reply #81 on: May 05, 2019, 12:30:34 PM »
This thread is an example of the good done by BBC. 

This thread reminds me that venomous snake bites are one of the risk variables that must be managed while backpacking the Bend.

Itís the ONLY one that scares me. I hope I never have to deal with it.


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"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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  • Golden Eagle
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Re: Snakebites
« Reply #82 on: May 05, 2019, 12:34:59 PM »
This thread is an example of the good done by BBC. 

This thread reminds me that venomous snake bites are one of the risk variables that must be managed while backpacking the Bend.

Itís the ONLY one that scares me. I hope I never have to deal with it.


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Well, that and anaphylaxis from insect stings. I used to have a fatal allergy, nearly died in my twenties, but an experimental treatment back then supposedly cured me. Iíve been stung a handful of times since, with nothing more than normal responses, so hopefully Iím good. But, you know, thereís always that lingering doubt in the back of my mind that the next one.....



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"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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