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Archive for Thursday, July 30, 2009

Retired KU professor being treated at LMH for copperhead snakebite

This female Copperhead snake is part of an exhibit at the Prairie Park Nature Center.

This female Copperhead snake is part of an exhibit at the Prairie Park Nature Center.

July 30, 2009, 10:35 a.m. Updated July 30, 2009, 5:57 p.m.

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Retired KU professor suffers snake bite

A retired KU professor is in the hospital after being bit by a venomous snake this morning. Enlarge video

Snake bite cases treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital

2007

  • April - 1
  • June - 1
  • August - 3

2008

  • May - 2
  • June - 4
  • July - 1
  • September - 3

2009

  • May - 1
  • June - 1
  • July - 1

A retired Kansas University professor was bitten by a venomous copperhead snake Thursday morning while gardening at his home southwest of Lawrence.

Dennis Domer, who is retired from KU's School of Architecture and Urban Design, called 911 after he was bitten on the middle finger of his right hand around 10:15 a.m.

"I reached this direction to pull some more weeds and … it was just like lightning. Bang," Domer said from his hospital bed at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical emergency responders took him for treatment.

Domer, who was hospitalized in the hospital's intensive care unit on Thursday, believes the snake was after a small toad when it struck, but said the snake came out of nowhere.

The man's finger and right arm are swollen, and doctors pumped him with six vials of anti-venom, said Domer, 65. It's the first time he's been hospitalized since he had his tonsils removed when he was 8.

Aaron Henrichs, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks natural resource officer, said copperhead snakes are common in Douglas County. The reptiles generally live under rocks on wooded hillsides, and during the summer months emerge, mostly at night, to hunt for rodents and small mammals.

"They're just prevalent everywhere here, all the time," Henrichs said.

Copperheads generally are not dangerous and rarely attack humans unless provoked, according to experts.

"The snakes bite generally out of a defensive reaction," said Marty Birrell, nature education supervisor at Prairie Park Nature Center. "If you get too close, you're likely to be perceived as dangerous and the snake will use its only defense.”

Birrell said it's important to look out for the snakes this time of year and to get treatment immediately if bitten by one that's venomous.

Anyone who is bitten could experience discomfort and discoloration around the wound, dramatic swelling, extreme nausea and possible hemorrhaging. The victim can be hospitalized for several days and in worse-case scenarios could lose a portion of skin, because of tissue destruction caused by the snake's venom.

"Any venomous snake can give a pretty nasty bite," said Birrell, who added that copperheads are the least-venomous snakes in the area.

Domer said he's hoping for the best.

"I'm totally optimistic," he said. "I expect to be out of here (Friday) morning and in 10 days I expect to be pulling weeds back in that garden. But, I will be watching for that snake. He better be really good this time."

Domer's finger was stinging on Thursday and doctors have told him he will be sore for several days.

LMH has treated three snake bites this year, compared with 10 in 2008 and five in 2007, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Comments

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

well guess i will let the weeds take over, no way am I going to pull weeds now. May not even walk in the yard either I am freaked out now going to see snakes every where.

Melanie Birge 5 years, 4 months ago

They seem to be enjoying this nice weather as much as we are. Hope the best for the professor.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 4 months ago

Joe No-Shoulders is out there. Be careful.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 4 months ago

I think Senator Roberts should get big government involved to eradicate all snakes from Lawrence and buy this man out of his snake-ridden home.

It is what a big-government socialist like Roberts does, apparently.

ksdivakat 5 years, 4 months ago

My friend was just bit, a couple weeks ago out at clinton lake, and when they got to the ER, the ER told her family that she was the 6th copperhead bite that week from the lakes(Clinton, Lonestar). Of course they didnt see the snake but by way of exclusion, knew it was, first of all, they said that there are only 3 venomous snakes at the lakes, and 2 of those are rattlers, the other a copperhead, and since they had seen 5 others that week, they treated it as if it was a cooperhead and must have gotten it right. But anyway, the ER told her and ehr family that for some reason this year copperheads were VERY bad otu there...so everyone heads up! She was in ICU for a day getting the anti-venom for it....be careful! And by the way, just to add to that, the snake bit her in the daylight, at the camp site where there were 15-20 people around, loud music, and 3 dogs, the hospital also told her that a copperhead is the only snake who will bite without provocation or lwarning...like a rattler rattles, cobra hoods up..etc...but a copperhead does NONE of that and will just bite you! So yeah, my yard aint getting gardened either!! LOL

Jonathan Kealing 5 years, 4 months ago

ksdiva--

That's what we're hearing as well, that copperheads are out in force right now. We're trying to develop this into a little bit bigger story. Probably by the end of the day.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

The more I read the more creeped out I get now I do not even want to walk outside or let my dog out I hate snakes. Snakes and spiders = nightmares for me yuck.

Newell_Post 5 years, 4 months ago

Jonathan Kealing, Online editor:

An expanded article on the general problem is an excellent idea. Please include something from an expert on "how to identify which snakes are venomous and which are not."

My understanding is that almost all venomous snakes in our area are "pit vipers." They all have triangular heads with bulging jaws. If you see a snake with a small, narrow, or round head is it probably safe. But I'm no expert.

ksdivakat 5 years, 4 months ago

Jonathan,

Im sure she would talk to you if you wanted, she has pics of her leg and everything...so do I but its her story, anyway, let me know if youd like to talk to her and I will hook you 2 up!

Newell_Post 5 years, 4 months ago

BTW, Dennis is a really good guy. Get well soon, Dennis!

manus_flexibilis 5 years, 4 months ago

seffer should have bit him back, hmmm chuch!!

mae 5 years, 4 months ago

news? puh lease. i have a bite about once a month. just 'cause he's ku professor it warrants news?

be prepared when you do this stuff, it's not for amateur "professors" who get paid way too much to not know there are skunks and snakes in the wild. idiots.

BrianR 5 years, 4 months ago

This makes me thirsty for a Copperhead Ale.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 4 months ago

mae - what stuff? Gardening? Pulling weeds? My parents used to pay me 25 cents an hour to pull weeds. Since I got paid, does that make me a professional weed-puller?

Tom - did I read your post correctly? The Dems didn't have anything to do with this? Faint

ksdivakat 5 years, 4 months ago

jackripper...Im no expert either, but I know that my friend who was bit, is a personal trainer, she very physically fit, and she was in ICU for the anti-venom. The hospital DR is the one who told her family that copperheads were the only snakes that bite without provocation or warning, which makes sense in her case, she was just sitting on a lawn chair, and it slithered up bit her and kept going. She said she knew immediately she had been bit, she looked down and seen the 2 big drops of blood on her leg, and she said at about 1 minute she started feeling funny, and stood up and told her family that she needed to go to the hospital, and she said after 5 minutes she was literally screaming in pain, and her family sped through town to get her there, but she said that it caused so much pain that she couldnt take it, They had her on crutches for a week, no weight baring at all on it, and then last week she got to start putting weight on it and is now walking without the crutches, btu I just spoke to her last night and she said the bruise is still there. Appearantly, when a copperhrad bites, the venom attacks the muscle immediately, so by the time they got to the ER she was bruised almost up to her knee from it that quick. She was also on pain killers for over a week. So it doesnt sound to me like this is anything to mess with. I was scared then after I found out...but now Im REALLY freaked out!!! No lake and no gardening for me!!! lol

Steve Miller 5 years, 4 months ago

copperhead meat is good, like chicken, white meat.. try it , you'll like it .

Jefferson_County 5 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

puddleglum 5 years, 4 months ago

all snakes are bad... everyone knows this

cthulhu_4_president 5 years, 4 months ago

That's never fun. Hope he is ok.

Who pi$$ed in mae's cheerios?

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 4 months ago

ksdivacat - bruises are caused by blood under the skin from breaks in veins. The venom attacking the muscle wouldn't cause bruising.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 4 months ago

Dude! Still too slow. I missed another removed comment.

jimmyjms 5 years, 4 months ago

ksdivakat - was your friend in the water or out?

cthulhu_4_president 5 years, 4 months ago

"ksdivacat - bruises are caused by blood under the skin from breaks in veins. The venom attacking the muscle wouldn't cause bruising."

I'm not sure about copperheads, but some species of snakes have venom that causes massive tissue necrosis in the muscle and surrounding area, like directly under the skin. This could appear black and blue, like bruises.

Read a case once about a guy who was bitten by a rattler and went a week without treatment. When doctors got to him his entire arm was black, and when they cut into it it literally popped like a piece of rotten fruit. Most of the tissue within had liquefied. Amazingly, he lived and has kept most of the functionality of the arm.

Rapid treatment is key!

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 4 months ago

Very true, cthulhu_4_president. But doesn't tissue necrosis take time, at least several hours if not days? Not arguing with you, just saying that ksdivacat's friend's bruise probably wasn't tissue necrosis.

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

still going yuck yuck yuck, creeping me out now you talk about a black arm turning to liquid and popping and yuck YUCK never leaving my house again. No wait they can get in hear also now I really in trouble..

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

Jack shutup not even funny like my even bigger fear than the dang snakes, not fair.

ksdivakat 5 years, 4 months ago

Jimmy...no she was sitting in a lawn chair just chatting with family and friends...I wish I could let you all see the pics with the dates on them and everything, of course the ER marked all over her leg, not sure why, I know they had to know something about how fast the venom was moving, but anyway the pics are dated and show very distinct black, blue and purple that day, so I dont know, I just know, I hate snakes and I never said, but I hope this gentlemen makes a fast recovery!

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

Not talking to you Jack... sticking my tounge out like a two year old.

jimmyjms 5 years, 4 months ago

Divakat - not to keep going on, but can say whereabouts at Clinton?

jonas_opines 5 years, 4 months ago

Snakes in the Grain.

"All right! It's time to get these mo@#$%%in snakes out of my mo@#$@#%in grain!"

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 4 months ago

I don't think you should kill something just because you can. It should be a last resort. I am not afraid of snakes, spiders, etc. and I don't think it is cute and girly to scream when you see one. My uncle, we lived in the Ozark woods, was getting ready for bed one night and he pulled back the covers to see a copperhead curled up in the middle of the bed all warm and cozy. My uncle yelled and ran one way and the snake headed the other way. I think they were both equally scared and the snake was pissed because it had lost its warm home for the night.

Kayhawk 5 years, 4 months ago

I was bitten a few weeks ago. FYI: antivenom is $10,000 a vial at LMH. Watch where you step!

Christine Pennewell Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

I braved a trip to the mail box Jack, no spiders or snakes so I am fine for now and I do not think karma will bite you in the butt for having some fun. As for junebugs are just a pest and cicadas are just loud. I do fine camping really I do but the whole snake thing and spiders yuck.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 4 months ago

Okay, do we know that somehow the Oread Inn issue is involved in this snake bite?


“have you seen any copperheads in your yard?” I don't know if he ordered a bunch from ACME Snake Co. and released them or what, but the only copperhead

---Acne Snake co. ... wasn't that one of the advertisers with Billy Mays?

bearded_gnome 5 years, 4 months ago

Sadly, that was his next project. I was looking forward to watching black rat snakes killing copperheads on commercials during late night tv.

“Look at him go! Dead! Dead! Dead! No more copperheads or your money back… Guaranteed! But wait! If you order within the next 30 minutes, you'll receive not one, but two prairie lions to take care of that nasty trap door squid infestation!!! Order now!!!”

LMAO, and with all his yelling, those snakes would be reeeeeeeeeeeally mad, ready to bite anything!


certainly, the oread inn is so eeeeevil, there has to be a ... conspiracy ... that's how the killer copperhead got into prof Domer's yard.

only way.

Janet Lowther 5 years, 4 months ago

Marty Birrell said: "copperheads are the least-venomous snakes in the area."

Actually there are many less venomous snakes in the area: Black snakes, ring neck snakes and garter snakes come to mind.

Copperheads may be the least TOXIC of the venomous snakes in the area, but are far from the least venomous 'cause the vast majority of snakes in this area aren't venomous period.

Best wishes for a fast recovery for Prof. Domer.!

When I bought my farm I walked around it with a biologist friend, who pointed out certain places as prime copperhead territory, which I have mostly avoided since. . .

RoeDapple 5 years, 4 months ago

Irish (Irish Swearingen) says… "My uncle, we lived in the Ozark woods, was getting ready for bed one night and he pulled back the covers to see a copperhead curled up in the middle of the bed all warm and cozy."

Irish, were your aunt and uncle arguing earlier?...... Just a thought..........

;-)

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 4 months ago

"Professor bit by copperhead," or what Dr. Henry Fitch calls Tuesday! He's really old and gets bit all the time. I don't even think he goes to the hospital.

I think copperheads are beautiful animals. I also heard that they have a musk that they secrete that can be smelled if they are in the general vicinity. Does anybody know if that's true?

RoeDapple 5 years, 4 months ago

No, but I bet that Japanese astronaut has developed quite a "musk"

parrothead8 5 years, 4 months ago

mae (Anonymous) says… "news? puh lease. i have a bite about once a month. just 'cause he's ku professor it warrants news?

be prepared when you do this stuff, it's not for amateur “professors” who get paid way too much to not know there are skunks and snakes in the wild. idiots."

Mae, if you're getting bit once a month, I'm not sure you're the one to call others "amateurs.". Seems like you'd figure out how NOT to get bit after a while. I've been tromping through wilderness all over the planet for 38+ years, and I've managed to avoid getting bit. (Knock on wood.)

Steve Miller 5 years, 4 months ago

They make good house pets. They keep the mice down.

ksdivakat 5 years, 4 months ago

"Copperheads generally are not dangerous and rarely attack humans unless provoked, according to experts.

"The snakes bite generally out of a defensive reaction," said Marty Birrell, nature education supervisor at Prairie Park Nature Center. "If you get too close, you're likely to be perceived as dangerous and the snake will use its only defense"

This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what the hospital told my friend and her family. I dont know anything about snakes except they creep me out, and I dont like them. However, if they are the "least" venonmous snake, then how come both my friend and the Prof were, and are in ICU? Im also no DR, but I would assume that you have to be very ill to be in ICU???? And as I mentioned earlier, my friend was sitting in a lawn chair out at clinton, at the camp grounds, not doing anything, there were alot of people out there, and 3 dogs and the thing still slithered up and bit her and then slithered away. There was no provocation. Im just gonna stay out of woods and my yard is gonna look like we are po white trash this year, because Im not gardening it!! LOL

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 4 months ago

Roe, yes they were, how did you know? Wow you must be psychic. But, just to show how much she cared, she spent all afternoon hunting that snake down. Actually, we all thought it was funny and he was very huffy about the whole thing. I do believe someone told him that he didn't have enough friends to be alienating one.

lori 5 years, 4 months ago

@ksdiva--because there is some risk involved in the administration of antivenom, all persons receiving antivenom are usually hooked up to a cardiac monitor and have vitals run frequently during the infusion. The only floors typically set up for this are ICUs and step-downs. Also, a person may have unrelated health conditions that could contribute to potential complications from the snake bite or antivenom infusion, hence putting them on a unit that will monitor them even more closely.

ksdivakat 5 years, 4 months ago

Ahh, ok gotcha Lori....thanks for the info!

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, I heard Dr. Fitch was immune as well, at least to copperheads.

Clickker 5 years, 4 months ago

"I also heard that they have a musk that they secrete that can be smelled if they are in the general vicinity. Does anybody know if that's true? "

I'm not sure about that one. The one that almost bit me came out of nowhere. We were hiking at Clinton, when it just fell out of a tree on top of me. I had heard they were climbers, but was totally unprepared to be looking up. I did not smell anything unusual.

bradf 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm a little concerned about the accuracy of the chart showing the number of bites treated at LMH. Prof. Domer was bitten on the 30th. My daughter was bitten by a copperhead on July 16 and was seen at the LMH ER at about 9:45 that evening before being transferred to Children's Mercy. While we were there the ER staff at LMH told us of at least one other bite about a week before we brought out daughter in, making it around the July 8/9/10 time frame. By my count that's at least 3 in the month of July alone. Maybe it just takes a while for the data to be collected, but we have certainly had more than one this month at LMH.

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 4 months ago

Okay, I researched the musk issue. Copperheads do musk, as do many other snakes, like black snakes. According to this site, they smell like cucumbers and men smell them more readily than women. Take it for what it's worth...

http://rimrockreptiles.net/FoF.html

Practicality 5 years, 4 months ago

Great rodentgirl,

Now I will never go weed the cucumbers.

rvktlll 5 years, 4 months ago

You city people crack me up.

We live south west of Lawrence in Douglas county next to rock creek and federal core land.

Every summer we have 4 foot rattlesnakes and copperheads and baby green ones at night on our front porch cement slab near our front door - we also take the small dogs out at ever night before bed - we have three flood lights to make the night like day and have to be careful all the time - you get use to it...

One small dog was bitten by a copperhead last year and lost an eye and that is about it.

We would never trade living in the city for this small inconvenience - just makes you feel that much closer to nature!

bearded_gnome 5 years, 4 months ago

men smell them more readily than women do?

wonder why!

I know men alert to the smell of doughnuts, cinomon very quickly. cucumbers weren't so popular.

sure wonder what's in the Copperhead musk that trigger's men's lymbics.


If I were Marion, I would sure avoid laying on any rocks for a while.

---oh, but that's necessary for Marioni, laying on warm rocks is how he warms his blood. while there, he catches flies with his sharp tongue.
one or two times a year, he sheds his skin too.

... lower than a snake's belly.

"baby snakes" by Zappa.

rvktlll 5 years, 4 months ago

To none2 from rvktlll - I didn't/will not say what we do when we findem on our property...

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