Poison center helps EMS treat Baltimore cobra bite
Toxicology fellow underscores importance of poison control centers
By EMS1 Staff
BALTIMORE — Maryland Poison Center Toxicology Fellow Patrick Dougherty has outlined the sequence of events in treating a woman who suffered a snake bite.
A woman, who officials did not identify, notified Baltimore responders last week that she was bitten by a cobra while getting into her car. The woman was bitten after picking up the snake, mistaking it for a stick.
After isolating the snake and transporting it to a walk-in medical center, Baltimore fire personnel rushed the woman to Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Because cobras are not native to the U.S., there is currently no FDA-approved antivenom for such a bite, according to Dougherty.
Dougherty told the Podmedic podcast that the only groups licensed to carry anti-venom for exotic snakes are zoological institutions.
“We needed to step outside of the box and find the closest place available that possessed anti-venom, which turned out to be the Philadelphia Zoo,” Dougherty said. “Because use of the online anti-venom index is restricted only to particular institutions, the poison center always provides the fastest route to getting the much-needed medicine.”
Dougherty advises EMTs and other responders to call their local poison control center when dealing with a patient exhibiting a rare bite.
Listen to the Podmedic’s interview with Dougherty here: