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Snakebites in North Carolina

There are about 45,000 snakebites (venomous & non-venomous) in the United States each year. But did you know that North Carolina leads the U.S. in the incidence of snakebites (or bites per capita)?

Every year there are 19 snakebites per 100,000 people in North Carolina. This is compared to a national average of 4 to 5 venomous snakebites per 100,000 people In 2009, WakeMed Emergency Departments (four adult and one children’s) saw close to 100 total snakebites. Of these 100 snakebites, 60 percent showed signs of venom poisoning or “envenomation,” and 40 percent of the bites were considered “dry bites” from venomous or non-venomous snakes

Approximately 1 to 5 people in the United States die annually from snakebites, but advances in medical treatment over the last half century have kept these numbers relatively low. Without medical care many more people would likely die or have significant long-term effects.

Poisonous Snakes Native to North Carolina

The copperhead is the most common venomous snake in central North Carolina.
Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin lives in the Eastern part of the state.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake primarily resides in southeastern N.C.
Timber or Canebrake Rattlesnake primarily lives south and east of the Triangle.
Pigmy Rattlesnake's habitat is in the southeastern section of the state.
Eastern Coral Snake resides in the southeastern section of North Carolina.

Tomorrow evening on WRAL, watch the 5:30 newscast to see me and Grover Barfield discussing venomous snakes native to North Carolina. Update July 8, 2010 1:30 pm:  Watch Dr. German’s WRAL interview here.

Benjamin German is an emergency physician with Wake Emergency Physicians and a snake enthusiast.