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Antivenom available at eight locations across Ontario

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PARRY SOUND, ON- In case you’re ever bitten by a rattlesnake, it’s good to know where the antivenom is.

In the wake of a story out of Gravenhurst this week where a visiting cottager was bitten by a Massasauga Rattlesnake, the West Parry Sound Health Centre is letting people know that there are eight different sites across Ontario that carry antivenom to counter the rattler’s bite, as well as the antivenom depot in Parry Sound.

According to an email from Lynne Atkinson, the executive director and corporate secretary for the West Parry Sound Health, those locations are the hospitals in Bracebridge, Midland, Owen Sound, Toronto (Hospital for Sick Kids), Windsor, Niagara, Sudbury and Orillia.

The eight sites are supplied from the Massasauga Rattlesnake Depot, which is in the Parry Sound centre.

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“Dr. Fargher, our chief of staff is the Medical Director of the Ontario Massasauga Rattlesnake Antivenom Depot,” wrote Atkinson, in her email.

“Dr. Farther played a leading role in establishing guidelines/protocols for the treatment of Massasauga rattlesnake bites in Ontario and advocated for a centralized antivenom depot.   The depot manages the delivery/count of antivenom ensuring the eight sites the West Parry Sound Health Centre supports has the supplies needed.”

The centre also had advice on what to do if bitten, and how to avoid snakebites. It is included below:

What if I get bitten?

  • Don’t panic! Not all bites result in venom being injected. One quarter of all rattlesnake bites are ‘dry’ bites.
    Stay calm and reduce movement.
    • Clean the wound – wash with soap and water
    • Remove jewelry on the affected limb.
    • Call emergency services (911) and get to a hospital as quickly and safely as possible.
    • DO NOT apply ice or a tourniquet.
    • DO NOT cut or apply suction to the bite area.

How can I avoid snakebite?

  • Do not pick up snakes or other wild animals. This is the most common cause of snakebites.
    • Do not harass, chase or threaten a snake, the second most common cause of snakebites. It is illegal due to the snake’s protected status.
    • Stay on the beaten path when walking in rattlesnake habitat and use a flashlight at night.
    • Always wear ankle-height, close-toed boots or shoes when hiking.  The Massasauga has relatively small fangs that are not likely to penetrate leather-hiking boots or loose clothing.
    • Always watch where you put your hands and feet. Do not reach into areas where you cannot see.
    • If you hear a rattlesnake, stop moving and determine the snake’s location. Slowly step away and give the snake room to move away.
    • Protect your pets – keep dogs on a leash when walking though rattlesnake habitat.
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