Serious Bites and Stings Chicago IL

While spiders, snakes and scorpions make our skin crawl, their reputations are often worse than their bites. Although their mates have a 100 percent mortality rate, a black widow spider hasn't killed a human in North America for over a decade. Even the sting of the dreaded bark scorpion is rarely fatal. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't respect their potential to inflict harm.

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Serious Bites and Stings

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Bites and Stings - Serious

I don't like spiders and snakes (or scorpions for that matter)

While spiders, snakes and scorpions make our skin crawl, their reputations are often worse than their bites. Although their mates have a 100 percent mortality rate, a black widow spider hasn't killed a human in North America for over a decade. Even the sting of the dreaded bark scorpion is rarely fatal. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't respect their potential to inflict harm.

Snakebites

Most snakes in North America are not venomous, but some species have a potentially lethal bite. The rattlesnake, a favorite villain of the Spaghetti Western, would rather be left alone than have the opportunity to shake its tail at hikers.

The highly venomous coral snake is reclusive and attacks only if startled or threatened. To ensure you don't inadvertently provoke a snake,

  • Stick to the trails and hike with a heavy foot - they'll stay away if they hear you coming.
  • Avoid areas that attract snakes (e.g., shaded areas, stumps of trees, under rocks).
  • Don't step over fallen trees. Instead, step onto the log and see if a snake is resting on the other side.
  • Listen - if you hear rattling, stop and slowly look around. If you see a snake, slowly back away and adjust your route accordingly.
  • Don't try to take photos of a live snake.
  • Don't play Crocodile Hunter , even if the snake is dead. Snagging your skin on the fang of a dead snake can still poison you.

Only one in 3000 snakebites in North America is fatal. If you are bitten by a poisonous snake, don't panic. Instead, use your head and

  • Immobilize the bitten area.
  • Keep the bitten area lower than the heart.
  • Get to a hospital.

Scorpions

Found in New Mexico, Arizona, parts of Nevada and Utah, and the California side of the Colorado River, scorpions are common in the desert. As ugly as these desert dwellers are, most are rarely deadly. Even the notorious bark scorpion sting can be neutralized easily at local medical centers. When in scorpion country, avoid being on the receiving end of a scorpion's tail:

Be careful when stepping or reaching into scorpion-friendly places (wood piles, underneath rocks, inside shoes or roaming the ground after dark). Check to make sure a scorpion has not made a home in your clothes, shoes or sleeping bags. Inspect your luggage / packs. Scorpions like to stow away.

If you are stung by a scorpion, stay calm.

  • Wash the sting with soap and water.
  • Remove your jewelry.
  • Do not cut the wound or suction out the poison.
  • Apply a cold compress.
  • Immobilize the stung extremity.
  • For pain, give Tylenol (acetaminophen) every 4 hours. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen.
  • Monitor for signs and symptoms of severe poisoning:
    • Muscle spasms
    • Convulsions
    • Impaired vision or speech
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Difficulty breathing.

At the first sign of severe poisoning, get to a hospital. If the sting victim is a child or elderly, get immediate emergency hel...

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