- Associated Press - Monday, August 11, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - In the blink of an eye, Dan Larson’s worst fears were almost realized when his 2-year-old daughter was bitten twice by a rattlesnake.

Brylee Traupel was running through prairie grass on Aug. 2 in her family’s yard northwest of Ellsworth Air Force Base when she stepped on the snake. Both bites were to the back of the knee, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1oz7ozd ) reported.

“She got struck twice in a matter of seconds,” Larson, 29, said. “It was completely without warning.”

What concerned him most was that no one saw the rattlesnake. Brylee’s mother, Kendell Traupel, was only two feet away and did not see it until it was too late, he said.

Without the rattling that can serve as a warning, the girl had no chance to avoid the snake, Larson said.

“She only looked back at the snake for a glance before (her mother) pulled her away,” he said. “I don’t think she really knew what was going on.”

It’s a common misconception that rattlesnakes always rattle their tails before they bite, Reptile Gardens curator Terry Phillip said. The prairie rattlesnake, the only poisonous snake in western South Dakota, is a “very individualistic” animal, he said.

“Some of them rattle a lot, some don’t rattle at all and are eager to defend themselves with a bite,” he said.

In this case, its reaction was not out of the ordinary at all. When the girl stepped on it, the snake merely lashed out to protect itself, Phillip said.

The proper thing to do for any child or adult is seek medical treatment immediately, he added.

“There is no first-aid treatment in the field. Don’t use tourniquets, don’t use ice packs,” Phillip said. “Immobilize the extremity with a splint and go to the hospital.”

Doctors will usually give a blood test to see if they have to administer the anti-venom serum CroFab, which is usually used for rattlesnake bites, he said.

With proper medical treatment, it is extremely rare to die from a rattlesnake bite, he said.

Within minutes, Brylee was transported by ambulance to Rapid City Regional Hospital. Along the way, Larson said she started to show signs of venom poisoning as she began to vomit, have sharp pains and trouble breathing.

At the hospital, she was put on oxygen and administered an anti-venom serum within an hour. Dr. James Gilbert of Rapid City Regional Hospital estimates they see between 20 and 30 rattlesnake bites each year from April to October.

Larson said his daughter was showing improvements after a few days. Brylee was a little more like herself, laughing and moving around more in her hospital room, he said.

“It was pretty devastating because the thought of her dying or long-term effects, it was very saddening,” Larson said. “They said children at her age recover better than adults do.”

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com


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