Press Release

The American Association of Poison Control Centers and BTG International Inc. Announce New Partnership to Promote Best Practices in Snakebite Prevention and Treatment

May 24, 2016 | Download PDF

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and BTG International Inc., a part of the international specialty healthcare company BTG (LSE: BTG), are pleased to announce a new partnership to promote best practices in snakebite prevention and first aid for the public.

Managing a call every 10-11 seconds, the nation’s 55 poison control centers stay busy year-round but tend to handle more calls during the warmer months. “As temperatures begin to rise throughout much of the country and Americans take to the great outdoors, the experts at our nation’s poison centers take more calls about animal bites and stings, plants and mushrooms, pesticides, and outdoor entertaining hazards” said Stephen T. Kaminski, JD, AAPCC CEO and Executive Director. “BTG has long been a driving force in specialty healthcare, particularly in their commitment to venomous snakebite prevention and treatment. AAPCC is thrilled to announce a new partnership with BTG, in part to inform the public about how they can prevent snakebites, and what they should do if they are bitten by a snake. We are immensely grateful for BTG’s support and believe that this partnership will help bring needed awareness to this hazard.”

It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States, and for around half a dozen people, these bites are fatal. In 2015, poison centers managed over 3,000 cases of snake and other reptile bites during the summer months alone. Approximately 80% of these poison center calls originated from hospitals and other health care facilities. Venomous snakes found in the U.S. include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins, and coral snakes. They can be especially dangerous to outdoor workers or people spending more time outside during the warmer months of the year.

“Poison Control Centers have an excellent track record of working with physicians, healthcare providers, and members of the public to ensure quick and appropriate care for snakebites” said Suzanne Ward, Director of Medical Strategy at BTG. “This partnership aims to dispel some of the common myths about how to care for a person bitten by a snake, and to share accurate information on prevention and first aid.”

Additionally, BTG recently announced the launch of SnakeBite911™, the company’s free and informative app available for download on the App Store®. The app is designed to educate users about the most commonly found venomous snakes in North America and the appropriate treatment of snakebites. For anyone that spends time outdoors, SnakeBite911 provides a library of information such as characteristics, habitats and pictures to help users identify North American pit vipers, a group that includes rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths (water moccasins).

Additional features of SnakeBite911 include a Snake Sightings Map to view and share snake sightings in your area, and a Hospital Locator tool to locate the nearest hospital equipped to treat venomous snakebites. The app also offers tips on how best to navigate snake-inhabited terrain, how to provide basic first aid in the event of a bite, and “dos” and “don’ts” in a snakebite emergency. The public SnakeBite911 app is available for FREE download in the App Store® for iPhones and iPads compatible with iOS 8.0 or later. Versions of SnakeBite911 are also available for emergency first responders and emergency room healthcare professionals, and can be downloaded for FREE from the App Store® by searching for SnakeBite911 FR and SnakeBite911 ER.

Most snakebites occur when people accidentally step on or come across a snake, frightening it and causing it to bite defensively. However, by taking extra precaution in snake-prone environments, many of these bites are preventable by using the following snakebite prevention tips:

Avoid surprise encounters with snakes: Snakes tend to be active at night and in warm weather. They also tend to hide in places where they are not readily visible, so stay away from tall grass, piles of leaves, rocks, and brush, and avoid climbing on rocks or piles of wood where a snake may be hiding. When moving through tall grass or weeds, poke at the ground in front of you with a long stick to scare away snakes. Watch where you step and where you sit when outdoors. Shine a flashlight on your path when walking outside at night.

Wear protective clothing: Wear loose, long pants and high, thick leather or rubber boots when spending time in places where snakes may be hiding. Wear leather gloves when handling brush and debris.

Never touch or handle a snake: Never handle a snake, even if you think it is dead or nonvenomous. Recently killed snakes may still bite by reflex. There have even been cases of detached snake heads being able to bite, reflexively.

Bring a partner: If you are planning to spend time in a snake-prone area, it is best not to go alone in case you are bitten by a snake or have another emergency. If you must go alone, make sure you bring a fully charged mobile telephone, and stay wherever your phone gets a signal.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BITTEN BY A SNAKE:

  • Do not panic; keep still and calm.
  • Call the poison center immediately by dialing the national, free Poison Help number - 1 (800) 222-1222. The experts at the poison center have been specially trained to treat snakebites. Every snakebite is different, and the poison center specialist will tell you what you need to do next, based on your specific situation. If you need immediate medical care, the poison center specialist can tell you where to go and call ahead to the right medical facility to make sure you get the care you need, quickly. If the person who was bitten is having trouble breathing or losing consciousness, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in a remote location and do not have mobile phone service, ask someone to drive you to the nearest emergency medical facility. Only drive yourself as a last resort. Call Poison Help at 1 (800) 222-1222 as soon as you have telephone service.
  • Keep the part of your body that was bitten straight and at heart-level, unless told otherwise by the specialist at the poison center.
  • Remove all jewelry and tight clothing.
  • Wash the bite with soap and water and cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing, if available, and if doing so does not cause delay.
  • Being able to describe the snake to medical professionals can help them decide on the best treatment for you, so try to remember the color and shape of the snake, but don’t move closer to it. Only take a photograph of the snake if you can do so from a safe distance. You do not need to bring the snake with you in order to get the proper medical treatment!
  • Note the time the bite happened.

Do NOT do any of the following:

  • Do not pick up, attempt to trap, or kill the snake.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow to the affected area.
  • Do not cut the wound.
  • Do not attempt to suck out the venom.
  • Do not apply heat, cold, electricity, or any substances to the wound.
  • Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages or take any drugs or medicines.

For more information on BTG, visit: www.btgplc.com. For additional outdoor poison prevention tips and resources, visit AAPCC’s Outdoor Poison Safety webpage at: http://www.aapcc.org/prevention/summer-poison-safety/.

For more information, the media may contact Angela Gonzales, AAPCC Associate Manager, Communications and Outreach, at 703-894-1865 or gonzales@aapcc.org.

About BTG:

BTG is a growing international specialist healthcare company bringing to market innovative products in specialist areas of medicine to better serve doctors and their patients. Our Specialty Pharmaceuticals help patients overexposed to certain medications or toxins. We also have a portfolio of Interventional Medicine products to advance the treatment of liver tumours, advanced emphysema, severe blood clots and varicose veins. Inspired by patient and physician needs, BTG is investing to expand its portfolio to address some of today’s most complex healthcare challenges.

To learn more about BTG, please visit: www.btgplc.com

About AAPCC:

AAPCC supports the nation’s 55 poison center members in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians and poison information providers. In addition, AAPCC maintains the only poison information and surveillance database in the United States, providing real-time monitoring of unusual poisoning patterns, chemical exposures and other emerging public health hazards. AAPCC partners with federal agencies such as HRSA, CDC, FDA and EPA, as well as private industry.

To learn more, visit www.aapcc.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@AAPCC).

Updated on June 9, 2016

For More Information

  • Edward V. Walrod

    • Associate Manager for Media and Public Relations
    • Email: media at aapcc dot org
    • 703-894-1863

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