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Healthy Balance

Copperhead Bites: “It’s Been Pretty Busy”

I have never seen a copperhead near my house in Albemarle County, but it seems I’ve just been unlucky. (I like snakes.) In September, many of my friends were reporting sightings of this distinctive-looking venomous snake.

copperhead snake
This copperhead was spotted on the Rivanna Trail in Charlottesville in September. Photo courtesy Bob Gibson.

Toxicologist Chris Holstege, MD, co-director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center, says this isn’t a coincidence. “It’s been pretty busy,” he says. “It was a bumper year” for copperhead bites.

This year the Center has treated 129 copperhead bites, up from 112 in 2013 and 92 in 2012.

Why? The snakes become immobile during extremely hot weather, Holstege says, and you’re less likely to encounter one. July and August were cooler than average this year, according to CBS19.

“We should be coming to an end,” he says. But be careful if you’re out on an unusually warm winter day. The Poison Center has seen bites in December.

Learn More: The Poison Center offers tips for preventing and treating snakebites.

However, in the grand scheme of things, you’re much more likely to get the flu than be bitten by a snake — and as Holstege reminded us yesterday, ticks cause a lot more problems than venomous snakes or spiders.

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