I am not sure if my recent surge in encounters with rattlesnakes can be attributed to the drought or what, but I have surely seen my fair share of them in the last month here locally. And to top that, my niece was bitten by one just last week out in Ozona in the evening while in the family garden. So, needless to say, I am sure looking out for these critters and thought it might be good to review very important first aid measures in dealing with a bite.

The best protection for humans when traveling in snake country is common sense in choosing protective foot and leg wear. When climbing, one should beware of putting a hand up over rocks. Rattlesnakes might be waiting there for a rodent, and the warmth in a hand may cause the snake to strike reflexively. Care should be taken at night, when snakes are more active and the chance of stepping on a snake is greater. Fortunately, rattlesnakes try to avoid people.

What should you do if you are bitten by a snake? According to the American Family Physician, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the following steps should be taken:

Stay calm. If you see the snake, try to remember what it looks like. Do NOT approach the snake; don't try to catch it or to kill it. Take off any jewelry or tight clothing near the bite quickly, before swelling starts. Lift a bitten arm or leg so it is level with your heart. Clean the bite wound. Be sure to wipe in the direction away from the wound. If you think the bite was from a poisonous snake, get to a hospital as soon as you can. In most of the United States, you should have time to get medical help before the bite is a serious danger to your life. If medical help is more than 30 minutes away, tie an elastic wrap two inches above the bite. The wrap should be loose enough to slip a finger underneath it. Do NOT bleed the wound. Do NOT try to suck the venom out of the wound. Do NOT put ice on the bite.

The causes of human death from rattlesnake venom are varied, but usually occur from extended hypotension and cardiopulmonary arrest. Usually within a few minutes after being struck the victim will experience pain and swelling at the wound site. In the U.S. there are an estimated 45,000 snakebites recorded annually, and of those, up to 8,000 are from venomous snakes.

According to Dr. Scott Krall, of Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital, each local Spohn branch has anti-venom to treat rattlesnake bites. For more information regarding snakebite prevention and first aid, visit http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020401/1377ph.html

Cattle Seminar in Alice

The Southmost Beefmaster Association and Texas AgriLife Extension Service will sponsor an Educational Livestock Seminar on Friday, May 1, 2009 at the Gulf Coast Sale Barn on Highway 281 in Alice beginning at 1:30 p.m. Topics will include Fever Ticks and Trichomoniasis by Dr. Bob Hillman, Executive Director of the Texas Animal Health Commission; NRCS Program Updates by Felix Saenz, Dist. Conservationist; and Cattle Nutrition and Parasite Control by Dr. Joe Paschal, Extension Livestock Specialist. For more information call 361-668-5705.

Brush Buster Seminar May 7

A drought of historic levels continues to have a firm grip on much of South Texas, and robbing some of that valuable soil moisture are various brush species like mesquite and huisache. To help address some of the options associated with managing these brush species a Brush Buster Seminar will be held on Thursday, May 7, 2009.

The seminar will begin at 6:45 p.m. at the Texas Agrilife Research and Extension Center on Hwy. 44 just west of the Corpus Christi Airport and conclude by 9 p.m.

The Brush Buster methods are easily understood, even by those with little or no previous experience in brush control. This program only recommends "select" treatments capable of killing at least 7 out of 10 of the plants treated. Brush Buster methods make every attempt to keep equipment costs and complexity to a minimum, and whenever possible, to use non-restricted herbicides. The seminar will be conducted by Dr. Wayne Hanselka, Extension Range Specialist in Corpus Christi. Pesticide applicators will be awarded two CEUs for participation in this seminar.

This seminar is being sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Nueces and San Patricio Counties, local Agricultural Advisory Committees, and Dow AgroSciences.

For more information, please call 361-767-5223.