Man bit by rattlesnake finds anti-venom in rural area


(Nexstar Media)

CHILDRESS, Texas– A Lubbock man was hospitalized after being bitten by a rattlesnake at his vacation home 13 miles outside Childress.

On July 11, Gary Rothwell was trying to kill another rattlesnake he saw on his property and did not realize another one was in the brush next to him. That’s when it struck him.

“I kind of fell down but then I jumped back up and took a weed eater and we finished him off,” Rothwell said.

Rothwell called Childress Regional Medical Center who had a supply of anti-venom. They utilized a dozen vials to neutralize the venom in his leg.

“The fact that they had it was nice to know,” Rothwell said.

However, in many other rural areas of West Texas, Allen Cunningham, the Clinical Pharmacy Manager at Covenant Medical Center said antivenom is most likely not close.

The availability of anti-venom in rural areas has been an ongoing issue over the years, but Cunningham said it is not because of a shortage of anti-venom.

“A lot of it has to do with the cost,” Cunningham said. “It’s difficult for those pharmacies to stock the drug without a guarantee that they are going to use it.”

While it depends on the amount of venom from the bite, and the length of time before a victim gets treatment, Cunningham said 12 vials are used to treat a bite on average.

“The medication can be very expensive,” said Cunningham, who did not specify the total cost of the drug.

Cunningham believes the state has had conversations to address the issue, but until then, he suggests being aware of surroundings while in areas with poisonous snakes, and knowing a plan of action if bitten.

“The efforts from those patients in the rural areas is to make sure that their hospitals can keep it,” Cunningham said. “If not where is the nearest facility that has it.”

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