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Copperhead bites 5-year-old at Thurmond Lake

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 3:49 PM
Last updated Thursday, June 5, 2014 10:02 AM
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Joe and Hope Seamon were packing up the family Monday after camping at Thurmond Lake when their 5-year-old son, Kessler, cried out.

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Hope Seamon (left) talks about how her son, Kessler, was bitten by a copperhead on his right toe while the family was camping. Kessler is being treated at Doctors Hospital.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Hope Seamon (left) talks about how her son, Kessler, was bitten by a copperhead on his right toe while the family was camping. Kessler is being treated at Doctors Hospital.

“The next thing we know he starts screaming bloody murder,” Hope said.

“He started screaming that it was a snake,” Joe said.

It had bitten Kessler, who was wearing flip-flops, on his right big toe.

While Joe corralled the 2-foot-long snake, Hope ran to get the park ranger, who identified it as a copperhead.

“You’re at the lake. What do you do? Where do you go?” Hope said.

The North Augusta family sped to Doctors Hospital and along the way the poisonous snake’s bite started taking effect.

“By the time we got here his foot was swollen,” Hope said.

“Twice the size it was,” Joe said.

Half the foot had turned light blue.

The venom already was causing swelling and fluid to leak out of the tissue so it was necessary to put a long slit in the foot to relieve the pressure, said Dr. Richard Cartie, the director of pediatric critical care services at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors, where Kessler was still receiving treatment Wednesday.

“If there is too much pressure, then the arteries are cut off from supplying the blood,” Cartie said. “That’s actually a rare occurrence to have to do that type of procedure, especially on a child. Usually, antivenom is enough.”

Copperheads are slightly less venomous than other poisonous snakes but the antivenom used to treat those bites is based on a rattlesnake model – which is in the same family of snakes – so it is not a perfect match. Kessler received four rounds of the antivenom and seemed to be fine Wednesday, calmly flipping through a coloring book in his room at the burn center.

This is the time of year when juvenile snakes – like the one that bit Kessler – are out and about and behaving in “stupid” ways that adult snakes generally do not, Cartie said.

“They are more likely to strike without a warning,” he said.

Juveniles are more likely than adults to bite and latch on and dump all of their venom, Cartie said. A bigger dose of venom means more damage.

Fortunately for Kessler, the damage appears to be limited, his parents said. The plan is to sew up at least part of the incision Thursday and slough off any dead skin and tissue, Joe said.

“The hope is that it will heal itself,” Hope said. “I guess the worst-case scenario would be a skin graft.”

The family says it feels fortunate it has turned out so well and hopes this will serve as a wake-up call to other parents.

“Our hope is that people will open their eyes a little bit more and see what is out there, because this scenario could have gone in a whole different direction,” Hope said.

The key is to seek attention quickly, Cartie said.

“It’s basically all about time,” he said. “The sooner you can start the antivenom, the better.”

Comments (19) Add comment
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IBeDogGone
3015
Points
IBeDogGone 06/04/14 - 05:53 pm
9
0
Good Care

I am glad Dr, Cartie was able to see him so quickly, Augusta is fortunate to have a facility such as this so readily available.

The Savage Madame
627
Points
The Savage Madame 06/04/14 - 07:16 pm
4
0
Feel Better Soon!

Get well soon Kess!

itsanotherday1
48274
Points
itsanotherday1 06/04/14 - 08:28 pm
2
0
A bit unusual to have that

A bit unusual to have that bad of a reaction from a copperhead bite. He must have injected the whole load.
I have another social acquaintance that was bitten by one while visiting out of state. She had a bit of a reaction too.

KSL
143582
Points
KSL 06/04/14 - 09:21 pm
3
1
As CG says, "I fear the snake

As CG says, "I fear the snake I don't see,"

corgimom
38321
Points
corgimom 06/05/14 - 04:43 am
2
14
Hopefully now the family will

Hopefully now the family will learn that when you are in a place where snakes are present, closed-toe shoes are a must.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 06/05/14 - 05:53 am
0
0
Snakes are everywhere.... get
Unpublished

Snakes are everywhere.... get well soon Kessler!

The Mick
832
Points
The Mick 06/05/14 - 06:12 am
9
0
I try not to question the

I try not to question the Almighty, but man I could have done without this creature! Glad the little boy is ok. Cogimom who wears close toed shoes at the lake or shoes at all. Plus snakes are present everywhere here, probably in your own back yard. But I am sure they are grateful for your parenting tip. It was theer fault the child got bit.

CobaltGeorge
175542
Points
CobaltGeorge 06/05/14 - 06:18 am
6
1
Yep,

A Liberal minded comment! They always know the best for humans.

Hopefully now the family will learn that when you are in a place where snakes are present, closed-toe shoes are a must.

Killed 3 this year and none was where they should have been!

corgimom
38321
Points
corgimom 06/05/14 - 06:50 am
2
11
The Mick, wearing flip flops

The Mick, wearing flip flops around a natural area is a good way to get bit by a snake.

It's called COMMON SENSE.

Yes, there sure are snakes in my back yard, and front yard too. And you know what? I don't wear open-toed shoes when I go out there, even though ours are non-venomous.

I grew up in a rural area of California, that was literally crawling with rattlesnakes, and when you do that, you quickly learn not to go into snake habitat in open-toed shoes.

But CG, dude, your idea that my comment was a "liberal" comment is just plain absurd.

By that reasoning, the Boy Scout handbook is a "liberal" publication.

But that child isn't done yet, getting bit by a venomous snake is serious, it kills off tissue, blood vessels, and nerves, and causes permanent damage. Which is why it's just plain foolish to wear flip-flops when you're camping.

curly123053
5359
Points
curly123053 06/05/14 - 07:41 am
5
0
Lucky Kid

I have not ever worn flip flops to the lake, and I do not wear them working in my yard either. But, I will also say tennis shoes will not stop the fang of a snake, especially if you don't see it and step on it. I answered a snake bite call to northern Aiken County once where the fang was broke off and embedded in the shoe and stuck in the patient's foot when doing EMS. This girl spent a week in the hospital after that experience. I would still trust shoes over flip flops outside, especially near bodies of water.

shrimp for breakfast
5641
Points
shrimp for breakfast 06/05/14 - 07:43 am
7
0
Wish Noah had left those 2 snakes behind

Wish he had swatted those two mosquitoes too!

rugerguy
216
Points
rugerguy 06/05/14 - 07:51 am
3
0
Snake awareness first

Mainly, look down and watch where you walk. Closed toes shoes will not save you alone. "Swamp wise" always (quoting Okefenokee Joe).

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 06/05/14 - 08:30 am
4
0
What it looks like

http://teach.shawnee.edu/Web%20Quest%20Projects/K-3%20quests/Lost%20in%2...

As general rule of thumb All SOUTHERN venomous snakes have an arrow shape head, except the coral snake.

justthefacts
24994
Points
justthefacts 06/05/14 - 08:29 am
4
3
The only good snake

Is a dead snake....

augustadog
96
Points
augustadog 06/05/14 - 09:09 am
5
0
I got bit in 09'

Pulling weeds in my yard. Hand swelled up like a baseball glove. After 3 doses of antivenom, swelling went down. Thank The Lord for insurance. Antivenom ain't cheap. 3doses over $15,000. Read up on it. Contained the venom of 3 different snakes.

KSL
143582
Points
KSL 06/05/14 - 09:25 am
4
1
Dang. Corgi. Exactly how are

Dang. Corgi. Exactly how are you supposed to know where those snskes are going to be, I grew up in the country. We had 10 acres, butva copperhead mom decided an old tree stump aboutn20 feet from our back door was where she was going to have her babies. You are telling me that I was not ever to wear open toed shoes? Oh we had 10 acres plus close neighbors.

Oh, what do you do about the water moc who drops from a limb into your boat? That happened to my mother. He skeedaddled quick enough.

Sweet son
11585
Points
Sweet son 06/05/14 - 11:23 am
4
0
Just read that the copperhead was a master of disguise in

the wild. Seems to be true in this case. You just have to watch where step and be ever vigilant. Glad this child was able to get treatment in a timely manner. Hope recovery is quick!

dichotomy
37418
Points
dichotomy 06/05/14 - 01:17 pm
4
0
Must be the season. I opened

Must be the season. I opened my garage walk through door this morning and stepped on the tail end of some kind of black snake that must have been 6 feet long. It whipped around and slithered right back between my legs as it headed for a low hanging tree limb and up the tree. I think my Welcome mat is almost dry now.

corgimom
38321
Points
corgimom 06/05/14 - 01:50 pm
2
1
My yard is a National

My yard is a National Wildlife Federation property, and with two ponds, and lots of vegetation, and daily watering with sprinkler systems, it's Snake Heaven. I also look where I put my feet and hands.

I don't wear open-toed shoes in my yard, ever. I know better.

Although, KSL, I don't know what boats have to do with open-toed shoes, that made me laugh. I guess you understand that connection, because I sure don't.

corgimom
38321
Points
corgimom 06/05/14 - 01:54 pm
2
0
But KSL, usually our dogs

But KSL, usually our dogs find the snakes, my dog Toby has gotten bit in the face and we've found dead ones in the yard, too. Susie- the one pictured in my avatar- hates them and she's usually the one that kills them.

The last one she found- an Eastern ribbon snake- she was all set to kill, but Toby got between her and the snake and shoved her out of the way, his herding instinct is strong.

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