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SoCal man fights for life after snake bite

May 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Southern California man was hospitalized after being bitten by a rattlesnake while visiting a cemetery."I just didn't think that a snake bite could be this deadly," said Patti Maddox, whose husband has undergone several rounds of treatments for the rattlesnake bite.

Patti says her husband, Dean Maddox, is fighting for his life and she wants others to be aware of the danger.

The couple and some friends were visiting Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier on Thursday. They spotted a rattlesnake while they were sitting in the grass. Patty's husband tried to shoo the snake away for the safety of young children and other people in their group. The rattlesnake bit him in the hand.

"In seconds, his lips started swelling. I started to drive him to the hospital. But just getting a few hundred feet, I realized I could not do it," said Patti. "So I called 911, they sent paramedics and they talked me through what to do for him until they got there."

Dean, 40, is being treated with anti-venom medication at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Baldwin Park. He is in very serious condition.

"The seriousness of the envenomation will certainly determine whether or not you survive, or the severity of the illness," said Dr. Bruce Corigliano, Kaiser Permanente. "But I think most people are going to survive something like this if they get to care quickly."

Patti has a 20-year-old son serving overseas. She had to call him with the news that his father is gravely ill.

"I had to explain this to the doctor. I said, 'We have a son in Iraq. Should I be notifying him?' And he said, 'I suggest you get him back,'" said Patti.

Experts say that as the weather gets warmer, rattlesnakes start coming out.

"They are in areas that are very often hidden. They can be in the brush, they can be in the bushes ... They'll especially be in things like wood piles," said Dr. Corigliano.

Tips if someone is bitten by a rattle snake:

  • Stay calm
  • Keep person immobile
  • No tourniquet; light dressing only
  • Get to ER immediately

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