South Carolina

Woman bitten by rattlesnake dies after being placed in coma, Georgia family says

Rattlesnakes: What to do if you get bit

Rattlesnakes may be waking up in the foothills around Fresno. Experts from the Poison Control System and Fresno Chaffee Zoo shared tips about how to deal with them, including what to do about a bite.
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Rattlesnakes may be waking up in the foothills around Fresno. Experts from the Poison Control System and Fresno Chaffee Zoo shared tips about how to deal with them, including what to do about a bite.

A Georgia woman who was hospitalized after being bitten by a rattlesnake died in the hospital, her family said.

Priscilla Meridith was 62 years old when she died on June 12 while at Southeast Georgia Health Systems, according to her obituary.

The Brunswick resident was hospitalized in May after a rattlesnake bit her, WTVL reported.

Her sister, Brenda Austen, said Meridith was in the garden of a friend’s Waverly, Georgia, home when a Timber rattlesnake bit her as she attempted to sit down, according to WJAX.

Helpful tips to avoid a surprise encounter with a rattlesnake and what to do if you're bit, from Scott Smith, who teaches about reptiles and amphibians. Know when they're active and how they judge danger.

The obituary described Meridith as “an avid gardener ... born with a green hand.”

Meridith was taken to the hospital, where she “had a severe allergic reaction and went into anaphylactic shock and had a heart attack,” according to an online fundraiser to support the woman.

Her liver and kidneys began to fail and Meridith was placed in a medically induced coma in an effort to save her life, WJAX reported.

With only 30 percent function from vital organs, the comatose woman received daily dialysis treatments, according to the GoFundMe.

While the description of the fundraiser expressed optimism that is was possible Meridith would recover, a person identifying herself as her daughter shared the news that her mother died.

“I hate to have to share this with complete strangers, but this had now become a funeral donation,” the comment on the GoFundMe said.

Meridith is survived by her husband, two daughters and a son, in addition to grandchildren and great grandchildren, according to her obituary.

The Timber rattlesnake is one of six venomous snakes found in Georgia, along with the cottonmouth, copperhead, pygmy rattlesnake, Eastern coral snake and Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

According to the University of Florida’s Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, the odds of dying from a snake bite in the U.S. are 1-in-50 million, which is about five or six deaths a year. More people die on an average annual basis from spider bites; dog attacks; hornet, wasp or bee stings; and lightning strikes than snake bites, the university said.

In spite of those statistics, Meridith became the second Southerner since May to die after being bitten by a snake.

Oliver “Chum” Baker was an Alabama man who died days after he was bitten by a snake over Memorial Day weekend, The State reported. The 52-year-old was unconscious minutes after he was bitten by a copperhead, according to The State.

Similar to Meridith, “the venom from the snake bite caused (Baker to have) anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest,” according to Tuscaloosa News.

According to the SC Department of Natural Resources, there are 38 types of snakes in the state, only six of which are venomous. Of those six, there are only two considered abundant to common - the cottonmouth and copperhead. Here are ways to ID them.



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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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