Officials in Maryland said they have seen an increase this year in the number of reported snakebites. Fifty-two people have been bitten by snakes so far in 2017 compared with 41 over the same period last year, according to officials with the Maryland Poison Center in Baltimore.
Scientists and biologists say they don’t know, but they have a few ideas.
“We have no way of explaining it,” said Angel Bivens, a public education coordinator for the poison center, of the uptick in reported cases. “It may be more people are aware of us” and therefore reporting bites.
“Or,” she added, “it could be that more people are out in nature and finding snakes.”
In this area, there are two types of venomous snake — copperheads and timber rattlesnakes. Bites by those snakes can cause severe symptoms, potentially requiring treatment with an antivenin, Maryland poison center officials said.
Of the 52 reported snakebite cases in the state this year, 28 involved copperheads and two involved rattlesnakes, according to the officials. The rest involved nonvenomous snakes.
Typically, copperheads can be found throughout Maryland, whereas timber rattlesnakes are more common in Frederick County and west of that area. The reports of bites have come from 15 counties in Maryland and Baltimore City.
Experts at the poison center recommend exercising caution outdoors.
“Typically, folks can be out gardening and reach into their flower bed and get bitten,” Bivens said. Or, she said, “they may be out on a hike and startle a snake and it bites them.”
“Just be aware,” she said.
In Virginia and the District, officials said they have seen no substantial increase in snake bites this year.
Typically, there are between six and 12 snake bites reported in the District annually, poison experts said. That is amid a total of between 97 and 125 for the Washington region, according to the National Capital Poison Center.
The poison center also has a list of tips and do’s and don’ts in case you are bitten by a snake. Check it out at http://mdpoison.com/news/2017/maryland-poison-center-shows-its-season-for-snakes/