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San Diego Zoo employee rushed to hospital after bitten by venomous snake

Snakebite Strategy
Posted at 12:57 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 15:57:37-04

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego Zoo specialist was bitten by a venomous snake Monday afternoon, zoo officials confirmed.

The incident was reported around 2 p.m. along Zoo Place, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The zoo says the wildlife care specialist was bitten by an African bush viper, also known by its scientific name Atheris squamigera while caring for the reptile in a non-public area.

A spokesperson with the zoo said the staff member was immediately taken to the hospital for evaluation and medical care.

“Although the San Diego Zoo cares for a number of venomous reptiles, incidents like this are very rare, and the snake was contained at all times with no risk of an escape,” the zoo said.

Adult bush vipers can grow up to about 2 and a half feet in length and their body color can vary from pale green to olive to brown to reddish, according to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense. They are mainly found in rain forests, open woodland, and swamps, and also in several central African countries.

Bush viper venom is likely hemotoxic, which destroys red blood cells and can disrupt blood clotting and potentially cause organ or tissue damage. According to the DoD, there is no specific antivenin currently in production for the bush viper, but therapies have been successful in combating the venom.

Zac Self at KGTV first reported this story.