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Texas snake bites increasing during COVID-19 pandemic

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With so many people sheltering at home because of COVID-19 people are getting cabin fever. They're taking to hiking, yard work, and other outdoor activities. And another group is out and about this time of year, snakes. (KVII)

With so many people sheltering at home because of COVID-19 people are getting cabin fever. They're taking to hiking, yard work, and other outdoor activities. And another group is out and about this time of year, snakes. And snake bites are on the rise.

"We have a lot of snakes in the Texas Panhandle. We do have a lot of rattlesnakes we have cottonmouths and copper heads," Director of the Poison Control Center, Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo-Stametz said. "Some of these will even swim. We have had reports of rattlesnakes swimming in the lakes but cottonmouths are often seen in creeks and lakes and then certainly with our terrain rattlesnakes will come out."

The best way to avoid being bitten is to be aware of your surroundings. wear boots and use a stick to poke ahead of you.

"Turning over objects that have been in the same place for a while so like a rock that is sitting in a yard or that is in your hiking path, or you're tired and you want to go sit on a rock beware because snakes will often seek cover under a rock," Jaramillo - Stametz said. "Any shaded areas if you are flipping things over, that is a good way to get bit by a snake.

"We are also seeing a lot of children who are getting bit. So, they are out playing usually unsupervised or with limited supervision and they are coming upon a snake and getting bitten."

Snakes like to hide, even in pool noodles or in kids toys. Specialists say you can never be too careful.

This goes for dogs as well, vets around the state suggest getting your dogs vaccinated against snake venom. Wildcat Bluff Nature Center Executive Director, Victoria Todd said that is why you have to keep dogs on leashes at the facility.

"You always want to be aware when your kids are involved anyway or your pets, they're your babies too and just to make sure you are keeping an eye on them they're not going somewhere they shouldn't be and finding things they shouldn't find but teach them, teach them what to do if they see a snake," Todd said. "We do want dogs to be on a leash for that reason. We don't want any dogs sticking their nose in a snake hole and getting a bite. That is no fun to deal with at all as a dog owner."

If you are bitten by a snake, do your best to stay calm, and call a Texas poison center as soon as possible.

It is important to remember if you see a snake, just slowly back away and give them their space.

There have been more than 350 snake bites reported to poison centers in Texas this year. That is a 40 percent increase over last year.

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