Spending July 4th outdoors? Watch out for rattlers - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Spending July 4th outdoors? Watch out for rattlers

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PINE VALLEY (CBS 8) - Public safety officials are issuing a warning to hikers to be on high alert, after a woman was bitten by a rattlesnake near Pine Valley Tuesday afternoon.

The 24-year-old bite victim was conscious and talking while she was being rescued. Rescuers say the fact that she had been hiking with a partner, who had a cell phone to summon assistance, was critical in quickly getting the help she needed.

The victim, who had been hiking in Corte Madera Ranch south of Interstate 8, was bitten around her ankle by a rattlesnake at around 1 p.m., according to Cal Fire.

A friend she was hiking with used her cell phone to phone for help.

"They were able to get a GPS location and hone in on their direct location where they were," said Cal Fire Captain Dennis Gutgesell.

The victim had to be airlifted off the mountain and flown to a waiting Mercy Air helicopter.

"Seeing she was having swelling, we went with the precautions that she had been envenomated," said Gutgesell. "Time is of the essence to try to get her antivenin at the hospital."

According to experts, the snake's venom can contain a combination of neurotoxins, which attack the nervous system, and hemotoxins, which attack tissue and red blood cells.

"The rattlesnake is not being aggressive attacking: it's a case of a defensive action," said Susan Nowicke, president of the San Diego Herpetological Society.

Nowicke cautions hikers and climbers to be constantly vigilant where you're placing your feet and your hands.

"You just have to be aware of your surroundings, and always on the lookout. That's a good policy when you're out hiking."

And if you are bitten, experts urge keeping a level head.

"You want to move yourself out of that situation and immediately call 911," Nowicke added. "Don't run, don't panic, remain calm."

Experts also recommend that hikers wear long pants and close-toed shoes or boots to protect themselves.

Also, if you're going out with your dogs, make sure you keep them on a leash, to help avoid any unwanted encounters with a rattlesnake.

The victim in Tuesday's incident is expected to recover, according to the Sheriff's department.

In general, the cost of treating a rattlesnake bite can be high, with just one vial of antivenin running, in some cases, more than two thousand dollars.

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