Source: NorthFulton.com

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Snake bites cases on rise at area vets

by Aldo Nahed

August 27, 2013

ALPHARETTA, Ga. —Sam, a 9-year-old boxer, has been bitten by snakes at least twice in the past month in his Windward neighborhood in Alpharetta. The first time, no venom was transmitted, but the second time, his face swelled and he needed anti-venom.

When his owner, Mikki Funderburke, took Sam to the Animal Emergency Center of North Fulton, 900 Mansell Road in Roswell, she learned other dogs had also been bitten by snakes recently at a rate of one per day, she said.

At the Alpharetta Animal Hospital, 80 Milton Avenue in Alpharetta, staff confirmed a rise in snake bites. Funderburke said sightings at her neighborhood started three months ago, and veterinarians have told her what to watch for.

Sam was bitten in the head and swelled immediately. He is in bad shape as of Aug. 20, said Funderburke.

"Depending on the amount of venom that the snake injects will change the status of his situation," she said. "They think he got a lot of venom."

South Forsyth-based All Pets Emergency and Referral Center, 6460 Atlanta Highway in Alpharetta, has had quite a few snake bites to pets. Copperheads are the most common, but are not the only snake bites veterinarians are seeing.

Dr. Randy Itkin, a veterinarian at All Pets, said this is the prime time when baby snakes get hatched and start moving in the late summer months.

"There are a lot more of them right now," Itkin said. "Copperheads can be anywhere. Underneath a bush, in a yard, or they can just be sitting in the middle of nowhere."

Itkin said they typically like to be concealed, but people will find them in their garage around trees and tree lines.

"You've got to be cautious," Itkin said. "We are seeing an increase. I can't say it's more than last year. It's just a very common thing this time of the year."

With the rain, their habitat is being disrupted and snakes are moving to higher ground and are perhaps more visible.

Copperhead bites are not as bad as other snakes; however, they can be fatal.

There is anti-venom that is used to filter the effects of the venom.

Bites to the feet and body can be severe, but they are not life-threatening. Bites to the head and neck can be life threatening.

"Snake venom is very toxic and destroys tissue very quickly," Itkin said. "The other concern is that owners may not recognize that they may have walked into a nest. Then there's the human risk as well, and they are just as nasty to us.

"We see snake bites typically into late October."