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Rattlesnake bite sends man to ICU

Joe Vande Merwe

Rattlesnake bite sends man to ICU

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Jun. 30, 2014 at 9:41 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Division of Wildlife Resources is giving campers and people recreating outdoors tips on how to stay safe around rattlesnakes. One Utah man knows all too well how painful being bit really is.

AJ Vande Merwe was working on a ranch with his uncle in Casper, Wyoming, when he was bitten.

“I was building fence posts with my uncle. I bent over to grab a fence post, and I got a huge sliver, I thought, but then I heard a rattle,” he said.

After he heard the rattle, he knew a snake had bitten him.

Vande Merwe said his uncle has a medical background and knew doctors in the area. His father told his uncle to take Vande Merwe to an Instacare facility, but Vande Merwe's uncle knew the bite was serious enough to require a hospital visit.

Vande Merwe's uncle put a strap around his arm to keep the venom from spreading.

“Once we got to the hospital and they took off the tourniquet, my eyes turned bloodshot red and I started to vomit about 10 seconds later,” Vande Merwe explained.

He remained in the hospital for two days, one of those days was in intensive care. His father, Joe Vande Merwe, rushed to Casper when he found out what happened.

“He was puffed up into his face and his chest and stomach. It went all over half of his body,” Joe said.

AJ received 18 doses of anti-venom and later was released from the hospital, his father said.

This month, officials with the Division of Wildlife Resources posted safety tips on their website regarding snakes. They tell hikers to not panic if they see a snake, and not to try to kill it.

They say most venomous snake bites happen when an untrained person tries to handle a snake.

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Paul Nelson

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