As summer approaches, officials warn about the different critters that come out with a bite

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Saturday
Updated: Apr. 30, 2022 at 5:14 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With the school year coming to an end and summer fast approaching both visitors and locals are ready to spend some time in the Black Hills, but they should be cautious.

“Summertime brings kind of injury season for us,” said Dr. Brook Eide the Medical Director for Monument Health Emergency Department. “That could be things from bee and wasp stings to motorcycle accidents, falls, hiking injuries. Snake bites are a common thing that we see here in the summer.”

There are several snake species in the Black Hills, but only one is venomous.

“Rattlesnake season has officially begun,” said Terry Phillip, reptile curator at Reptile Gardens.

“The big thing is with rattlesnakes is sometimes it’s hard to tell how significant the bite was and about 25% are dry bites. They don’t actually envenomate, but it’s hard to tell that upfront. So, if you’re bit by a snake, we say it’s very important to come in and not wait to see if you have symptoms. The symptoms are going to be progressive swelling from where you were bit and it can lead to things like bleeding and whole system failure,” said Eide.

If you’ve been bit and show symptoms, do not attempt to fix the problem yourself.

“Yeah, there are lots of first aid measures that are still talked about, unfortunately,” explained Phillip, “the cut and suck method, or putting a tunicate on, or, unfortunately, hooking yourself up to a car battery and electrocuting yourself.”

In fact, the only cure for a rattlesnake bite is antivenom.

“To get the antivenom you must come to an emergency department,” Eide explained.

However, visitors shouldn’t be too scared as snakes are more afraid of us than we are of them.

“But really, just with some common sense, some good footwear, and paying attention to where you’re going, snake season is really easy to get along with here in South Dakota,” said Phillip.

Other bites or stings one may encounter in the Black Hills are from ticks and bees.

Eide said when removing a tick make sure you remove the entire bug to avoid infection.

Bee stings, although usually harmless, can be a major problem for others.

“Some people can develop allergies and have anaphylaxis where their organs give them a hard time breathing, their heart can have strain. So, that can be a very serious thing and requires immediate and emergency intervention,” said Eide.

Whatever critter you may encounter, it’s important to stay calm.

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