Westleton: Snake bite rarity assurance after woman airlifted to hospital

An adder at RSPB Minsmere. An adder at RSPB Minsmere.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
9:54 AM

An expert says it is perfectly safe to walk in the Suffolk countryside – and the chances of being bitten by a snake are extremely rare.

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Reptile specialist John Baker, a consultant to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, was speaking after a woman in her 60s was airlifted to hospital after being bitten on the foot while while walking on Westleton Heath at the weekend.

The woman was left seriously ill after suffering a severe anaphylactic reaction to a bite from the snake, believed to have been an adder, the only venomous snake native to Britain.

Mr Baker said it was very rare to be bitten by a snake and also rare to suffer an anaphylactic reaction.

He said anti-venoms and the treatment of bites had improved dramatically and it was more than 35 years since anyone had died from a snake bite in the UK.

People did occasionally get bitten, but usually because they were interfering with the creatures.

He said: “Adders are non aggressive and you would have to be very unlucky to be just out rambling and to step on one and be bitten, particularly if you take sensible precautions, including wearing stout footwear.

“We don’t want to put people off visiting the beautiful Suffolk countryside – there is a very minimal risk of seeing a snake and even less of being bitten.”

At this time of the year, snakes are more likely to be hiding from the hot sun and there is even less chance of finding one.

A community responder, ambulance crew and the East Anglian Air Ambulance’s Anglia One helicopter attended at 1.35pm on Saturday after the injured woman rang 999. She was treated at the scene before being flown to the James Paget Hospital.

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