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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:

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