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Veterinarians see an increase in snake bite cases

By Nadine Maeser, nmaeser@wdbj7.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:31:39 AM EST
Updated On: Sep 18 2013 05:41:26 PM EDT

As we first told you right here on WDBJ7 veterinarians in the Roanoke Valley are seeing more cases of dogs bitten by copperhead snakes.

ROANOKE, Va. -

It's been quite the season for snakes in Roanoke.

According to veterinarians at the Emergency Veterinary Service of Roanoke, it's the worst they’ve seen in a few years.

They've seen such a high number of Copperhead bites in the area and are temporarily out of the medicine they use to treat them.

The vets said each vial of antivenin costs about $500. They also said it's hard to get because it’s so expensive.

Dr. Seth Thomas said Mother Nature is to blame for all the cases he's had to treat over the past three months.

"I think as the rain was falling snakes had fewer places to hide,” he said. “Rivers and water tables were up and I would assume rodents and different food sources for snakes were probably also looking and competing for places to hide and live."

Thomas said a copperhead snake bite can be deadly to any animal. He said it depends on the size of the victim as well as the size of the snake.

"A smaller snake may actually inject all the venom that it is has in its venom sacs whereas an adult snake would meter that out for the prey it was attacking," said Thomas.

It also matters where the animal is attacked.

Thomas said the farther the bite is from heart and brain the less likely the toxin is to get there.

He said it’s important to try and keep an eye on your dog or cat when they are outside.

Emergency Veterinary Service off of Peters Creek Road is now open 24 hours a day. Vets there have seen up to 15 snake bites in just one week.

They're expecting to see fewer snake bites coming in as we head into the fall season.