By Teresa Jun, KOLD News 13
It's rattlesnake season and this year experts are seeing an unusually high number of people reporting bites from the reptiles.
According to data from the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona, 150 people have been bitten by rattlesnakes so far in just nine months this year.
That's more snake bites than reported in all of last year. Plus, in the month of August alone, the number of bites is up about 25 percent over last year's figure. Reported bites include cases from all over Arizona, except for Maricopa County.
Experts at the Center say the higher number may be the result of the current abundance of baby rattlesnakes. They are so young, they don't have rattles yet to warn of their presence. With the unusually heavy monsoon this year, there's more vegetation and more water that may be helping more of the young snakes to survive, and even helping them hide from our view.
But there are steps we can take to protect against bites. "Fifty to seventy percent of all the snake bites we consulted on could have been prevented," said Jude McNally, managing director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.
Prevention tips include: wearing long pants outdoors instead of shorts, wearing covered shoes instead of sandals, and always keeping your hands in clear view away from holes or shrubs. If you do happen to see a rattlesnake, experts advise the public not to try and handle the snake.
Instead, if it must be removed, call a pest control agency or your local fire department for professional help.
If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial to the chances of recovery and survival. If you think you may have been bitten by a venomous rattlesnake, call the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at its 24-hour hotline: 1-800-222-1222.
As for the 150 Arizonans bitten by rattlesnakes so far this year, they have received anti-venin and are expected to survive.