Snake bite cases treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital
- April - 1
- June - 1
- August - 3
- May - 2
- June - 4
- July - 1
- September - 3
- 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.