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Rattlesnake Bites Are Up In San Diego County

— Health officials say rattlesnake bites are on the rise in San Diego County, and appear to be more toxic than usual. Officials say most snake bites are preventable.

Experts say rattlesnakes don't go looking for humans to bite. They're not aggressive by nature, and usually bite only when provoked or stepped on.

Dr. Richard Clark is medical director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System. He said about 60 percent of rattlesnake bites are the result of humans messing around with them. But Clark added there's not much health officials can do about it.

"That's like telling people not to use methamphetamine, and not to drink and drive," Clark said. "There's a segment of the population that no matter how dangerous they know or I tell them a rattlesnake can be, they will continue to think they know what they're doing by handling a rattlesnake."

Clark said he doesn't know why rattlesnake venom is becoming more potent. He advised people who are bitten should not apply a tourniquet or suction the wound. They should get to an emergency room as quickly as possible.

If a bite victim is in a remote area, he should move slowly to his car. Moving slowly will keep the heart rate low and prevent the venom from spreading in the body.

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