Dramatic jump in snakebite cases

July 15, 2009 9:22:16 AM PDT
Snake experts are at a loss to explain a sudden jump in the number of snakebite cases being treated in Austin. Officials at University Medical Center Brackenridge, Austin's main general hospital, say they've treated 29 snakebite cases in the past three months. Brackenridge officials say their emergency room staff treated 26 such cases in all of last year.

The officials tell the Austin American-Statesman that none of the bites have proved fatal, but one patient had a finger amputated. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports an average of one to two human deaths in Texas annually from venomous snakebites.

Texas A&M herpetologist Lee Fitzgerald tells the American-Statesman that if snakes are active during a drought, they're seeking food or a different environment.

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