With cool temperatures and rainfall existing only in the distant memories of weary Texans, it seems the ubiquitous search for food and water is drawing creatures closer together. Austin health care officials report the drought conditions are sending venomous snakes into the city to scavenge for man-made resources.
So far, East Texas seems to have avoided a reptilian invasion, as area hospitals report no increase in venomous bites.
However, the same cannot be said for Austin, where medical staffs reportedly have seen a 14 percent increase in venomous bites and stings this year.
Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin reports a 46 percent increase in children treated, while three University Medical Center Brackenridge patients have died of venomous bites since May 2010.
Typically, no more than one or two snakes bite victims die annually in the entire state, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“We’re not experiencing the same thing” as Austin, said Dr. Mark Anderson, an emergency care physician at Mother Frances Hospital. “Part of it may be that Austin’s on the other side of the dry line and is maybe experiencing even more of the drought effects.”
Anderson said he could not remember the last snake bite fatality at Mother Frances.