Copperhead bites man at Latta Plantation nature preserve

A copperhead in the grass
A copperhead in the grass jblackmon@thesunnews.com

A man was bitten by a copperhead while walking at Latta Plantation Nature Center and Preserve in Huntersville on Tuesday, WSOC-TV reported.

The man told emergency responders he was walking down a trail at the preserve on Sample Road when he stepped on the snake, which bit him near the Gar Creek canoe access, the station reported.

The man told fishermen that he kicked the snake into the water after getting bit and called 911, according to WSOC-TV.

Shortly before noon, Medic reported treating a patient at the preserve for minor injures before taking the person to Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center.

The bite was a rare occurrence at the preserve, said Kevin Metcalf, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s operations manger for preserves. He could recall only one other snake bite at the preserve, and that happened several years ago.

The 1,460-acre preserve is Mecklenburg County’s largest, forming a green peninsula that extends into Mountain Island Lake in the northwestern part of the county.

Latta Plantation attracts about 375,000 visitors a year, so the chances of being bitten by a snake are 1 in over a million, Metcalf said. “People don’t need to be afraid,” he said.

Copperheads are found throughout Mecklenburg County, and their bite is not fatal, Metcalf said.

The copperhead is common in North America. While copperheads also are the most likely to bite, their venom is relatively mild, and their bites are rarely fatal for humans, according to Live Science.com.

On April 23, a Ballantyne man became the season’s first publicized victim of a copperhead bite in Charlotte, according to TV station Fox 46.

Mike McGowan told the station the snake bit his finger while he and his wife were doing yard work. The snake was curled up and well disguised among some logs, and he was trying to move it elsewhere when the bite occurred.

“My whole hand puffed up, you couldn’t see any of the veins and everything was puffed up that big,” he told Fox 46.

The mild winter apparently contributed to a near quadrupling of reported snake bites so far this year, Charlotte’s Carolinas Poison Center reported.

The center got 71 calls about bites in April, compared to 19 calls for the same month last year, the Observer reported on Tuesday. The Charlotte center is one of 55 in the U.S.

Most of North Carolina’s 37 snake species are harmless. One of the six venomous species, copperheads, account for the vast majority of reported bites. The poison center gets 10 times more calls about copperheads than all other snake species combined.

Copperhead snake bites can be fatal to dogs and cats if untreated, so you should immediately get your pet to a veterinarian who can administer anti venom, according to Cat-World and other pet websites.

Staff writer Bruce Henderson contributed.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

Advice on snake bites

The Carolinas Poison Center can help individuals decide whether hospital care is needed, and says many can be treated at home under the center’s guidance. If you’re bitten by a snake, call the center at 800-222-1222.

How to avoid being bitten:

▪ Remove debris and junk from lawns and mow the grass often to reduce the presence of rodents that some snakes prey on.

▪ Check boots and shoes that are stored in a garage or outdoors before putting them on.

▪ Wear sturdy boots or shoes when outside, especially when gardening or hiking.

▪ Watch your step when outside and watch where your hands go, with the help of a flashlight in the dark.

▪ Back away slowly if you see a snake. Don’t try to pick it up or move it. Snakes can bite when they feel threatened.

If you’re bitten, do not:

▪ Cut the bitten area and suck the venom out. This can cause infection.

▪ Ice the area, which causes additional tissue damage.

▪ Apply a tourniquet or tight bandage. It’s better for the venom to flow through the body.

▪ Attempt to catch or kill the snake – you could be bitten again.