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Copperhead bites Haywood County woman

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Sarah Allison said she was walking downstairs outside her friend's house on Lake Hiwassee on Saturday night when she stepped on a copperhead snake. (Photo credit: Sarah Allison)

Sarah Allison's two young children looked on as she had her follow up appointment at Mission My Care Now in Clyde.

The Haywood County woman said she was walking downstairs outside her friend's house on Lake Hiwassee on Saturday night when she stepped on a copperhead snake.

"It felt like a hornet sting at first, and later on it felt like someone just took a hammer and just hit my foot a bunch of times. It was very painful," Allison remembered.

Even though the outside flood light was on, Allison said she didn't get a good look at the snake.

"I saw gray, and I knew it was a baby," Allison said. "It had that yellow tip on it, and I saw some orange or yellow. It all happened really fast."

And it happened in an area with no cell service. The family immediately drove to Murphy to the nearest hospital, where Allison spent the next five hours.

Allison had follow up care with Dr. David Mulholland the next day and again today.

"Ice and heat can speed up the tissue breakdown, so it's recommended that's not done," the doctor said about caring for venomous snake bites. "Basically, get medical attention as fast as you can."

Mulholland said venomous snakebites are rare. Allison's is the first he's treated in his 20 years in the mountains.

The doctor said it's best to prevent snakebites in the first place, instead of relying on antivenom.

"Antivenom has a lot of potential problems and side affects, also," Mulholland said.

Mulholland said people should wear proper hiking boots, since most snakebites happen on the feet and lower legs. He said since snakes are drawn to water and also to rocky, dry, sun-exposed areas, people should pay attention to their surroundings.

Allison said she will do some things different now.

"In the dark, flashlight checking the ground all the time. I've told my kids the same thing. You don't go out in the dark without some kind of flashlight or headlamp," she said.

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