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'People Have A Fascination With Snakes': Poison Control Team Works With Philadelphia Zoo To Treat Venomous Snake Bites

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It's snakebite season and a Philadelphia partnership is looking to provide the best care after a venomous snake bite. These snake bites happen from both pet snakes and in nature with something like a rattlesnake.

This usually leads to calls to the Poison Control Team in Philadelphia and they work with the zoo, who has snake experts and anti-venom.

Some people just like having snakes for pets, even something like a giant cobra.

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"People have a fascination with snakes, especially venomous snakes," Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, from the Poison Control Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said.

Osterhoudt says they're not frequent, but they get calls about snake bites more in the summer.

"Venomous snake bites are a problem in Pennsylvania from both venomous snakes we have that live here, but also because sometimes people will have exotic venomous snakes from other countries as pets," Dr. Osterhoudt said.

Those are among the snakes that are on exhibit at the Philadelphia Zoo, where they are kept safely behind glass.

Jason Bell, animal operations manager at the zoo, says there's never been a venomous snake bite at the zoo because of extensive training and safety precautions.

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But they are prepared, just in case.

"The snakes we have, we have the anti-venom which is essentially antidote," he said. "Anti-venom for all the snakes we have here, we order it from the country of origin of the snakes."

There isn't a generic anti-venom as it's specific to each snake.

The zoo shares its supply with the area doctors when there's a bite in the community and has a partnership with the poison center.

Venomous snake bites can cause a variety of problems, including, swelling, bleeding, and difficulty breathing.

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"Some of the exotic snakes we most commonly encounter here are people with cobras as pets and vipers as pets," Osterhoudt said.

There are some counties where having a venomous snake is illegal, but regulations are sporadic.

Fatalities from snake bites are rare in the United States, but worldwide there are as many as 2 million venomous snake bites each year and as many as 100,000 deaths.

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