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Snakebite (cont.)

Snakebite Prognosis

Although the vast majority of victims bitten by venomous snakes in the United States do very well, predicting the prognosis in any individual case can be difficult. Despite the fact that there may be as many as 8000 bites by venomous snakes, there are very few deaths (in the United States), and most of these fatal cases do not seek care for one reason or another. It is rare for someone to die before they are able to reach medical care in the United States. The majority of snakes are not poisonous if they bite. If a person is bitten by a nonvenomous snake, they will recover. The possible complications of a nonvenomous bite include a retained tooth in the puncture wounds or a wound infection (including tetanus). Snakes do not carry or transmit rabies.

A victim who is very young, old, or has other diseases may not tolerate the same amount of venom as well as a healthy adult. The availability of emergency medical care and, most important, antivenin can affect how well the victim recovers.

Serious venom effects can be delayed for hours. A victim who initially appears well could still become quite sick. All victims possibly bitten by a venomous snake should seek medical care without delay. The faster the patient is treated appropriately for a poisonous snakebite, the better the prognosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014

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Most snakebites are innocuous and are delivered by nonpoisonous species.

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