ATLANTA — While this summertime heat definitely has people searching for shade to escape the sun - they may want to watch where they step.
That's because, according to Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the director for the Georgia Poison Center, snake bites appear to be trending upward for this year, thanks to the warmer weather.
Data from the poison control center shows that the number of snake bites per year has generally trended upward, with a big jump between 2017 and 2018.
Here's the breakdown of snake bites from the last five years:
- 2014 – 412 bites
- 2015 – 405 bites
- 2016 – 446 bites
- 2017 – 437 bites
- 2018 – 461 bites
So far this year, there have been 392 bites, well above the number there were for the same period this time last year there, when there were 355 bites. This year, Lopez said the agency has gotten more calls about copperhead bites than any other snakes.
PHOTOS: Snakes seen in metro Atlanta
The number of people receiving an antidote for a snake bite also appears to show a big spike between 2017 and 2018, and it seems that number will likely surpass last year's number. So far, in 2019, there have been 98 people who have received an antidote for snake bites. But for the same period this time last year, there were only 79.
Here's a breakdown for the number of people who received an antidote:
- 2014 – 85 people
- 2015 – 87 people
- 2016 – 82 people
- 2017 – 78 people
- 2018 – 99 people
Lopez said the rise is mostly related to weather factors that can drive snakes out - excessive rains or extreme heat, for example. And, most of those bites are clustered between April and October, when temperatures are warmer.
This summer, high temperatures have come close to or broken long-standing records. As of Sept. 10, north Georgia had seen 73 90-degree days, according to our 11Alive StormTrackers. The record for most 90-degree days in one year is 90, which was set in 1980 and 2011. The average number of 90-degree days for north Georgia is 97.
The good news? The bites so far have not resulted in more fatalities - there has only been one reported death this year, the same amount for 2015. There were none recorded for the other years.
So, what should you do if you are bit by a snake? Watch the video below to learn more.
Do you know how to identify the snakes commonly found in north Georgia? Swipe through the gallery to learn about them.