An Arizona man who thought he’d get a laugh or two for playing with a rattlesnake was bitten in the face and had to be hospitalized for several days. Victor Pratt, 48, was bitten September 7 during his son’s birthday party near Coolidge, outside Phoenix.
Pratt, with a severely swollen face, told NBC News 12 last week he’d always play with rattlesnakes as a kid. In fact, he even learned to cook their flesh, which tastes “just like chicken,” he said.
When a rattlesnake showed up at his son’s birthday party, he thought he could catch it, play around with it – and possibly eat it afterward. The rattlesnake, however, bit Pratt on the face and sent him to a Phoenix hospital, where he spent several days unconscious.
Pratt’s adventure with a rattlesnake caused him a trip to the hospital
Pratt and his sons were celebrating a birthday at a lake in Coolidge. A rattlesnake slithered nearby, and Pratt took the opportunity to show his kids how he used to catch and cook the reptiles. The 48-year-old chopped up snakes’ heads when he was young and cooked them. He was bitten once as a teenager, but it wasn’t a serious incident, The Washington Post reports.
“I showed them how to catch it and I was playing with it like kids do,” he told Fox 10. “I was showing off. Like I always do.”
Pratt grabbed the snake and posted for a series of photos. In one he’s seen laying on the ground with the rattlesnake, which he had grabbed from both ends. However, he lost grip on the venomous snake’s head, and the enraged animal attacked him twice.
He was bitten once on the chest and once in the face. Pratt realized immediately he didn’t have any time to spare. Pratt told The Arizona Republic he told everyone they had to go because he knew what would happen next.
Pratt’s sons rushed him to a nearby hospital, where a doctor quickly inserted a tube in his airway to help him breathe. He was then airlifted to Banner-University Medical Center in Phoenix, where doctors helped him recover.
Women are more likely to run away from snakes than men
Dr. Steven Curry, who directs the department of medical toxicology at Banner-University Medical Center, said Pratt would have died if he hadn’t been taken to the hospital within minutes after the attack.
Dr. Curry noted the facial swelling after a rattlesnake bite is so immense “that even your tongue and lips and the inside of your throat swell,” which often leads to strangulation. Pratt was in shock and heavily sedated when Curry first saw him. He was unconscious for several days, while doctors treated him with 28 vials of antivenin. He regained consciousness a few days later, and he shared his story.
The department of medical toxicology at Banner-University Medical Center treats about 70 snake bite patients each year, according to Dr. Curry. The doctor said that while facial bites are considered rare, men like Pratt who like to play around with snakes are not.
“In my career, and I’ve been doing this for about 35 years or so, I’ve only seen one illegitimate snake bite a woman,” said Curry, referring to a bite in which the victim saw a snake and didn’t try to escape, according to The Washington Post. “We find they are far too intelligent to go messing around.”
Receiving medical attention immediately is critical after a snake bite
Pratt woke up last week after a five-day blackout. He told The Arizona Republic he lost five days of memory. Dr. Curry said the loss of memory was typical because the drugs needed to keep the patient under prevent memories from forming. The doctor explained that patients with facial bites are kept heavily sedated for their own safety, and their hands are wrapped in bulky bandages to prevent them from pulling out the endotracheal tube.
“[If] that endotracheal tube would come out, because of severe neck swelling, it would be difficult or impossible to immediately put it back in or immediately perform an emergency tracheotomy,” Curry told The Arizona Republic. “Because if that tube were to come out, then we would expect that they would be in very big trouble immediately, and perhaps might even die in four to five minutes.”
Rattlesnake venom can cause swelling, paralysis, and numbness in the spot of the bite, causing tissue damage. Dr. Curry said seeking medical care quickly is of the utmost importance, adding that home treatments are a mistake.
For instance, he noted that first-aid measures like tourniquets, ice, incisions, or applying suction are harmful and dangerous, or completely “ineffective, as in the case of suction.” In fact, he noted the most common cause of all snake-bite deaths in Arizona, was the victim not receiving prompt and quick medical attention.
Facial snake bites make up less than 1 percent of all snake-bite injuries each year, but are often the most dangerous, said Curry. Meanwhile, Pratt said he “ain’t gonna play with snakes no more.”
Source: The Washington Post