Critter concerns after catastrophic flooding across Houston area

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - The Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann said they are seeing plenty of emergency room visits related to Harvey, mostly people getting injured by debris, but they also want to warn you snakes, alligators and the floodwaters can cause serious health problems.

“We have rattlesnakes, water moccasins, copperheads and a few coral snakes,” said Dr. James McCarthy, chief of emergency medicine at Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute and McGovern Medical School at UT Health.

“The first three, come see us; we have an anti-venom for it, works very well. The coral snake is a little more complicated, but if you get bit by a bright multicolored snake, we'd like to see you,” McCarthy said.

When it comes to snakes, McCarthy said the ideas that you should suck the poison, use a tourniquet or kill the snake to bring with you are totally false.

“There's no reason to go chasing down a snake. We see other people get bit doing that,” he said.

Instead, remember the description, maybe take a photo. Based on that, doctors can determine the best treatment. If there's pain or swelling, it's urgent so don’t delay getting to the ER.

Other illnesses that could rise with water include West Nile, which could lead to confusion and fever.

If you start to look yellow like with jaundice, McCarthy said disease from rodents is possible.

“The rodents are going to be pushed into spaces real close to people now,” he said. “So, there's going to be increased contact with some animals.”

Of course, if it comes to alligators that have popped up in some flooded neighborhoods near Lake Houston and Sienna Plantation, McCarthy said there wouldn't even be a question about seeing a doctor -- get there quickly. Also know that a deep-tissue bite from any of these animals may require a tetanus shot.

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