It’s rattlesnake season: Elderly man bitten, taken to hospital

Human encounters with rattlesnakes increase in early summer months as the weather warms up and people spend more time outdoors, an L.A. County Fire Department spokesman said.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

An 84-year-old man was airlifted from a beach near Pacific Palisades so he could receive treatment for a rattlesnake bite Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

The number of Los Angeles-area snakebites usually rises during the early summer months, when more people are spending time in yards or on hikes, L.A. County Fire Department spokesman Scott Miller said.

The elderly man, who was not identified because of health privacy laws, walked into an L.A. County fire station in Topanga Canyon about 1:45 p.m. and told firefighters he’d been bitten by a rattlesnake. To ensure fast treatment, he was taken to nearby Topanga State Beach and airlifted to a local hospital, a Fire Department supervisor said.


No information was available Saturday afternoon on the man’s condition, where he was when he was bitten or the bite’s location.

Miller noted that it isn’t just people who are enjoying the hot weather and lengthening days -- it’s also slithery reptiles.

“Just like people, snakes love the warm weather,” Miller said. “It brings them out too.”

He advised people living in hillside areas to clear brush from their yards so that snakes, if present, are more visible. He cautioned hikers to be on the lookout.

Emergency teams treat bite victims as if the snake is venomous, unless the snake can be found and identified as not poisonous. Responders take victims to hospitals so they can be given antidote serum, Miller said. He added that people bitten by poisonous snakes need to be treated within four hours and that survivability can also depend on the victim’s physical condition before being bitten, including age and allergic sensitivity.

Deaths from snake bites are rare, he noted.


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