Snakebites more frequent this year than last

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Katy Bartholome just wanted to check out some hiking trails behind a friend's house.  But a sneaky, little copperhead changed her plans.

"We were walking down there and I tripped over a stick," Bartholome said.

On May 25, 20-year-old Bartholome was about to trek through some woods with a friend in Kansas City when a copperhead snake suddenly slithered out and bit her on her right ankle.

“Just right after it happened, I couldn't put any weight on my foot or anything and the swelling started happening immediately," Batholome said.

She was rushed to Saint Joseph Hospital and then on to the University of Kansas Hospital where she received an anti-venom.

"I just didn't know what to think because I'd never been bitten before, but definitely really scary," Bartholome said.

Experts say copperhead venom isn't very strong. Still, according to Dr. Stephen Thornton, a toxicologist and medical director at the University of Kansas Hospital, more copperheads, rattlesnakes and other venomous crawlers are biting this season.

Thornton said as of July 11, there have been 30 poisonous snakebites and seven non-venomous snakebites reported across the metro and in Kansas. That's compared to a total of 47 all of last year.

Doctors say the snakes just want to escape the summer heat for a cooler spot, like alongside shaded homes, near air conditioning units or wet grass.

“Most snakes are harmless. If you think you've been bitten by a poisonous snake you should seek medical attention," Bill Graham with the Missouri Department of Conservation said.

Doctors say if you are bitten by a copperhead or a rattlesnake, do not try to treat the wound yourself. Immediately get to a hospital. Katy's wound isn't totally healed,  she's back at the hospital on Wednesday.

“I learned not to walk around outside in the dark with a dress and flip flops on in the woods. Now, I'm really careful," Bartholome said.

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