Pit vipers, such as the rattlesnake, copperhead, and cottonmouth (also called water moccasin), are poisonous (venomous) snakes. They leave one, two, or three puncture marks on the skin, but you won't always see any marks.
Symptoms of a pit viper snakebite usually appear within a few minutes to a few hours after a bite and may include:
Other symptoms may be caused by the bite itself or from fear or worry after being bitten. You may:
The severity of symptoms will depend on the type of snake that bit you, how much venom was injected with the bite (envenomation), and your personal health risks. Even if you do not have symptoms within 8 hours of a bite, continue to watch for symptoms for up to 2 weeks.
If you do not have symptoms within 8 to 12 hours, the snake might not have injected any venom; this is called a dry bite. At least 25%, perhaps up to 50%, of bites are dry.
If venom is injected, about 35% are mild envenomations, 25% are moderate envenomations, and 10% to 15% are severe.
It is important to remember that a snake only injects part of its venom with each bite, so it can still hurt you after the first strike. A dead snake, even one with a severed head, can bite and release venom through reflexes for up to 90 minutes after it dies.
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Sean P. Bush, MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine, Envenomation Specialist
Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014
Current as of: September 9, 2014
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