Dr. Charles Gerardo: March 6, 2017


What Parents Should Know About Venomous Snakebites

As We Head Into Spring

Dr. Charles Gerardo

Chief of the Division of Emergency Medicine
Associate Professor at Duke University School of Medicine

As we get ready for spring, more families will be heading outdoors. However, whether hiking, biking or simply relaxing in the backyard, there are some hidden dangers that should be on every parent’s radar.



       In the United States, 98% of venomous snakebites, also known as envenomation, are from the North American pit viper snakes―including rattlesnakes and copperheads.[i]

       Each year, around 9,000 patients are treated for envenomation in emergency departments nationwide, including 5,000 for venomous snakebites.1,[ii]

       84% of snakebite cases occur between April and September, with peak incidence in July. It’s important to prepare in advance. As the weather gets warmer, snakes become more active, making bites more prevalent. [iii]

       Children are more likely to suffer than adults – sometimes resulting in death – based on typically larger envenomation amounts relative to a smaller body size.[iv]

       More than 1,300 U.S. children and adolescents ages 18 and younger suffer snakebites each year on average.[v]

       This is an important topic for parents, as children under age 6 tend to have the most severe outcomes after a venomous snakebite.3

       Dressing properly for outdoor activities is a skill that can prevent a great outdoor experience from turning unpleasant or even deadly. Find out how to protect yourself when heading into the great outdoors.

       When it comes to plants and vegetation, you never know what kinds of dangers are hiding within – even in the comfort of your own garden.

In this satellite interview, Dr. Gerardo will discuss how to keep your family safe from the hidden hazards that come with the spring thaw and will offer solutions on how to stay safe. He’ll be joined by Lori Stone, the mother of a 2-year-old girl who was bitten by a rattlesnake, who can share their story. They’ll both explain what to do and what NOT to do if you get bitten by a snake.


Dr. Gerardo is the Chief of the Division of Emergency Medicine and Associate Professor at Duke University School of Medicine. He graduated with honors from Stanford University with a B.S. in Biology, and received his M.D. from University of California, Davis School of Medicine.  He went on to complete his residency training in Emergency Medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center. It was during his time at Loma Linda that he initially became involved in care of envenomated patients.

Dr. Gerardo completed his Masters of Health Sciences from the Duke University Clinical Research and Training Program.  In 2000, he became Emergency Medicine faculty at Duke University and has played an integral role in all of the major missions and signature programs within Duke Emergency Medicine, from the early development of its residency program and medical student education to the initiation of its unique Global Health research programs. He has served as the Medical Student Clerkship Director, Director of Emergency Medicine Global Health Programs, and Director of Clinical Affairs, and Vice Chief of Clinical Operations.

Dr. Gerardo served on the American College of Emergency Medicine (ACEP) Academic Affairs Committee and currently is a member of the ACEP Clinical Policies Committee.  In 2014, he received the Emergency Medicine Leadership and Service Award for his contributions to Duke Emergency Medicine during his career.  He has published in JAMA, Annals of Emergency Medicine, Academic Emergency Medicine and Clinical Toxicology.  His current research focuses on the clinical effects of copperhead envenomation and assessing the severity of snake envenomation.

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