Is Rattlesnake Venom More Poisonous Than Ever? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Is Rattlesnake Venom More Poisonous Than Ever?

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It's rattlesnake season, and some say this year could be deadlier than ever. Some reports show more people are being bitten, and they're suffering more extreme - sometimes fatal - consequences. But one local snake expert disagrees.

The Southern Pacific Rattlesnake comes out between the months of April and October, so well into the season there are emerging reports that say this species is becoming increasingly deadly.

Doctor Roy Johnson, a physician and herpetologist, has studied snakes for more than 30 years and says reports that the rattlesnake found in San Diego County is becoming "extra toxic" are bogus.

"They're very adaptable and they do well in an environment like this where you have a lot of people moving out into more rural areas, and there are just still lots snakes out here," he said.

Johnson has studied snakes for more than 30 years, and says reports that the rattlesnakes found in San Diego County are becoming "extra toxic" is bogus.

"Most often severe envenomations occur because people are bitten more than one time," Dr. Johnson said.

But the rumors sounded like they could be true, especially when our own News 8 Chopper reporter Jo Eager was bitten last year. Eager spent more than two weeks in the hospital, and couldn't walk for days.

"There wasn't much of a warning

"It felt like a thorn had been hammered right by ankle bone," she said. "I could feel things swelling up, my breathing became more difficult."

Johnson says adverse reactions have a lot to do with how soon a person receives medical attention. The sooner a snakebite victim gets anti-venom, and enough doses of it, the better off that person will be. So reports that the Southern Pacific's venom is packing a bigger punch are just a myth.

"Evolution is a very slow process. Venoms don't change," Dr. Johnson said.

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