Bolivar Medical Center Encourages Snake Awareness

May 14, 2018

Bolivar Medical Center is encouraging the community to be aware of our snake population and to take precaution when working or playing outdoors. If a snake bite does occur, the medical professionals at BMC are trained to treat the bite and have the resources available to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites in the United States, and about five of those people die. The number of deaths would be much higher if people did not seek medical care.”

Bob Wilbanks
Director of Pharmacy

Bolivar Medical Center’s Emergency Department is available 24/7 for treatment. Director of Pharmacy Bob Wilbanks explains how anti-venom is used for the treatment of snakebites.

“The use of antivenoms can make a difference between loss of limbs, and even life and death, but the drug does not stay in the bloodstream very long. It is important to administer it as soon as possible and as venom moves from tissue to the bloodstream, multiple doses of antivenom may be needed,” said Wilbanks. "Our hospital usually treats multiple snake bites each year especially in the spring and early summer. Proper medical care is essential."

At Bolivar Medical Center, patients are injected with the initial dose of antivenom and then transported to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., or The Med in Memphis, Tenn., for continued care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide tips on what to do and what not do if you or someone else is bitten by a snake.

What TO DO if You or Someone Else is Bitten by a Snake:

  • If you or someone you know are bitten, try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.   
  • Keep the bitten person still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is poisonous.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • Apply first aid if you cannot get the person to the hospital immediately.
    • Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.
    • Tell him/her to stay calm and still.
    • Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.

What NOT TO DO if You or Someone Else is Bitten by a Snake:

  • Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it (this may put you or someone else at risk for a bite).
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Do not slash the wound with a knife.
  • Do not suck out the venom.
  • Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water.
  • Do not drink alcohol as a pain killer.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages.

According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, there are six venomous types of snakes in Mississippi. These include the copperhead, cottonmouth, pigmy rattlesnake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, canebrake rattlesnake and coralsnake. The MDWFP provides photographs for venomous snake identification.

A part of LifePoint Hospitals®, Bolivar Medical Center's Emergency Department is a level 4 trauma center, and wait times are available on the website. BMC is a 164 bed acute-care general hospital accredited by The Joint Commission, which offers a full complement of medical and surgical services. The hospital also offers a wide array of outpatient services and in addition, includes a 35-bed nursing home, 12 swing beds and 12 geropsychology beds.