Entries in Bites (3)


California Teen Recovering from Six Rattlesnake Bites

Hemera/Thinkstock(JAMUL, Calif.) -- It took 24 doses of anti-venom, four days of hospital intensive care, and two weeks at home for 16-year-old Vera Oliphant to recover from six rattlesnake bites.

Oliphant, who is from El Cajon, Calif., was visiting her uncle in Jamul -- that's in San Diego County, on Oct. 27 when she went up a hill from his house to try to get a cellphone signal to contact her mother.

“I thought I heard rattles behind me so I ran away. But then I stepped into the snake nest under a pile of leaves. First the mother snake bit my right foot… the baby snakes bit me after that.”

Oliphant tried to call 911, “but I didn’t have any phone signal. So I had to run down the hill back to my uncle’s house,” she said.


She said she was in a fog, her eyesight and her consciousness fading. How she got to the house, she cannot fully recall. “I was feeling numb and paralyzed. I had black vision and I saw bubbles.  It felt like needles were stabbing me… it burned so hard and it felt like a bomb just exploded in me. It’s really hard to describe,” she said.

“I struggled to get my key out, and I was too weak to ring the bell. I desperately tapped at the window and cried, ‘Help me,’ and that’s when my uncle took me to a hospital 15 miles away,” said Oliphant.

On the way to Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, Oliphant was somehow able to put a post on her Facebook page: “i got bit by a rattle snake & now i,m about to go to l.C.U .. it hurts like a ___ & my leg is paralyzed ._.”

Soon after, she went into anaphylactic shock twice and lost consciousness four times. She arrived at the hospital in the nick of time.

“The doctors told me that I need two to three months to completely recover from the bites. But I will feel a weird sensation when stepping on my left leg for years,” she said.

Oliphant’s father David, who is a former occupational nurse, was more worried about her response to the treatment than the amount of venom that was in her bloodstream.  "I am used to dealing with patients, but when it’s your own daughter it’s different,” Oliphant’s father told ABC News.

“The majority of people suffering from snake bites survive them if they’re treated on time,” Dr. Donna Seger, Executive Director of Tennessee Poison Center and an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell how bad the bites are because 25 percent of them are dry and sometimes the snakes miss the main vein.” Seger said.

But Oliphant had been bitten badly.  “Snakes in the West, including California, are usually nastier than the ones in the East and are much more toxic,” Seger said.

Oliphant said that she feels lucky to be alive.  She also thinks that had her phone worked, she would not have suffered as much. She said she wishes there are more cellphone towers.  “I mean, there was literally no reception where I was and if I had one I would have called for help.”

Oliphant hopes to go back to Chaparral High School in Santee next Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Sting of Summer: Be Prepared, From Bites to Burns

Photos[dot]com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For those who vacationed on the Florida coastline this Memorial Day, the summer season launched with a bang, or more specifically, with hundreds of stings.

Because of steady Atlantic winds, this past holiday weekend the beaches were swamped with reddish-colored jellyfish, known as mauve stingers, resulting in more than 800 reported stings among the beachgoers.

Though summer has not officially started, the Florida jellyfish debacle is a sharp reminder of the many stings, burns, nips, bites, and rashes that arise during the summer months ahead.  ABC News spoke with pediatricians, dermatologists and emergency medicine experts to pull together a guide to preventing, identifying and treating the various ills that can accompany your summer fun.

When Jellyfish Attack

Although there are many different species of jellyfish throughout the coastal United States, the resulting sting is largely the same.  When you come into contact with a jellyfish, either underwater or when they're beached on land, small barbs in the tentacles catch on your skin and cause red welts.

If you think you've been stung by a jellyfish (and given how painful a jellyfish sting is, you usually know it), the best thing to do is rinse the sting in saltwater, not freshwater, says Dr. Lee Winans, head of the emergency room at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida.

"The little barbs are packets of poison, and if you use freshwater, it will cause them to rupture and make the reaction worse," he says.

Rubbing or patting the area can also cause these packets to rupture, so take a shell or credit card and scrape the barbs off the area while rinsing in the saltwater, says Dr. James Schmidt, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sun Burn vs. Sun Poisoning

We all know we should be wearing sunscreen, but sunburns still happen.  The question is, when is a sunburn more than just a "use some aloe and get some shade" situation?

When sunburn is severe, causing blisters or covering a large part of the body, it can result in sun poisoning -- an extension of heat stroke that is marked by dehydration, fever, and headache.  Sunburn is a form of inflammation, so when a significant area of skin is inflamed, the body reacts to the inflammation with flu-like symptoms, says Dr. Neil Korman, a dermatologist at U.H. Case Medical Center.

The Bite from the Mystery Bug

Bees and hornet stings are usually not problematic unless you are allergic to their sting or if multiple stings are received at once.  Wheezing or excessive swelling around the face or site of sting should be checked out by a doctor immeidately, especially if it seems the person is having an allergic reaction to the sting, says Winans.

As for spider bites, most are harmless, but a few species of poisonous spiders can cause more serious reactions.  In the southern U.S., brown recluse spiders can result in large, painful bites that, left untreated, can lead to loss of a limb.  Unlike normal spider bites, which get better over the course of a few days, poisonous bites will only get worse and the skin around the bite can start to die, says Winans.

Chigger, mosquito, and fire ant bites, while painful and itchy, are benign.  They usually appear as small itchy bumps, or in the case of ant bites, small pus-filled bumps. "Put topical over-the-counter steroid cream on bites, but try not to itch them, that will only open them up to a possible infection," Winans says.

Lyme Disease: Beware the Bull's Eye

A bite from a tick is usually not felt and will not itch, but if the tick is a carrier for Lyme disease, the resulting infection can be severe.  The easiest way to diagnose Lyme disease is by the red ring rash that often, but not always, accompanies a bite by a tick with Lyme.  The "bull's-eye rash" will develop three to 30 days after a bite and will be accompanied by fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you remove a tick from you and experience these symptoms following (even without the rash), see a doctor to get tested for Lyme disease, doctors say, because if not treated with antibiotics, Lyme can cause neurological, joint and cardiac problems over time, says Dr. Korman of U.H. Case Medical Center.

Rash Reaction

Swimmer's itch consists of many small, itchy, slightly painful red bumps that are usually noticed following a swim in the ocean.  Usually, the rash is just another form of a jellyfish sting and results when microscopic jellyfish larva get caught in the fabric of one's swimsuit, says Schmidt.  Swimmer's itch can also be caused by other parasites present in fresh or saltwater.  The rash is benign and can be treated with topical hydrocortisone cream but will otherwise go away on its own, doctors say.

Heat rash is not from contact with any plant or animal but merely the product of skin irritation in damp or sandy conditions, such as wearing a wet bathing suit over an extended period of time.  The red, raised, itchy bumps are sometimes referred to as "prickly heat" and occur when the sweat glands become clogged, says Korman.

Rashes from poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac are par for the course for summertime excursions into wooded areas, and while annoying, are usually not serious.  Approximately 85 percent of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woman with Bed Bug Bites Denied Medical Treatment

Pixland/Thinkstock(AURORA, Colo.) -- Christine Lewis said she was just being honest with the nurse at Colorado's Aurora Medical Center when she showed her the festering bites on her arms just before she was to have a spinal injection for her back pain.

But when the doctor arrived, instead of showing compassion, Lewis alleges he refused to do the procedure, telling her, "It could be in your hair, it could be in your clothes and we can't have you bring that into our operating room," and then just "ran out the door."

"I was flabbergasted and mortified," Lewis told "He totally disregarded me. I told the hospital, now I know how AIDS patients felt 20 years ago. Everything he said implied I was a dirty person, not up to standard and that's not right."

Lewis, 43, has had three back surgeries since she was in a car accident in her teens and was all set to get a nerve-blocking procedure for her dislocated tail bone. A former pharmacy technician, she has been disabled for the last 10 years because of her condition.

Lewis said she had assumed the bites were bed bugs, but "the fact is, [the doctor] couldn't determine if they were bed bugs or bug bites."

"I had been bitten a lot and they were red and inflamed and weepy," said Lewis. "The doctor gave me a perfectly good medical explanation why he didn't want to do the procedure. But then he went on to show ignorance, telling me I could bring the bugs into the hospital on my hair and clothes. They could come in on a delivery truck or anyone who walks in to the hospital. I am not a dirty person. He went too far."

Aurora Medical Center South spokesman Joanna King said that when Lewis disclosed the bed bugs, "standard protocols" were put in place.

"The treatment team consulted our infection prevention nurse, who advised them on cleaning and containment procedures, and advised that from an infection control standpoint they may continue with the spinal injection," said King, who is vice president of human resources and strategic development.

But the doctor, assessing the patient just before the procedure, determined that the bites posed "an increased risk for infection" and decided to reschedule the elective procedure.

As for his behavior, said King, "The medical center and all staff are committed to treating all patients with compassion and dignity and I am confident we did so."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bed bugs are "experts at hiding." They can fit into small spaces and stay for long periods of time without eating. They are usually transported from place to place as people travel in luggage, folded clothes, bedding and furniture. Unlike other parasites such as ticks or lice, they do not travel on a person's body.

Lewis, who is married and lives with her husband, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and two of her children, said she doesn't intend to sue and isn't even demanding an apology, but just wanted to create public awareness over the way she had been treated. Lewis also refused to reveal the name of the doctor because he will continue to treat her.

Hospitals are not immune to bed bug infestations, which have plagued hotels, apartments and movie theaters throughout the country. And a recent study from Canada has suggested that despite previous studies, bed bugs can carry the dangerous staph infection MRSA, which is methicillin-resistant.

Just 10 days ago, the District of Columbia Department of Health confirmed the second case of bed bug infestation at United Medical Center. As a precaution, officials moved patients out of that area and treated at least six rooms with chemicals. Just two months earlier at the same hospital, a patient was discovered with bed bugs in the psychiatric area.

And last fall bed bugs were found at Central Maine Medical Center in New England. According to the Sun Journal newspaper, infestations were also reported at least three other facilities, including a nursing home.

In March, at least five cases of bed bugs were reported at hospitals in Milwaukee, even in examining rooms. "We're seeing cases of bedbugs on a weekly basis. In reality, the bed bugs are coming in on patients," Aurora Health Systems spokesman Adam Beeson told ABC's affiliate WISN-12.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio