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Woman Bitten Several Times By Copperhead Snake At LongHorn Steakhouse

Shreesha Ghosh
A Virginia mother is recovering after a copperhead snake bit her as she walked into a LongHorn Steakhouse in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Sept. 24, 2017. In this photo, a man shows a copperhead snake before slaughtering it at a restaurant at Le Mat, dubbed "Snake Village", some 10 km (6 miles) east of Hanoi, May 9, 2007.

A Virginia woman is recovering after a copperhead snake bit her several times when she was out to eat at LongHorn Steakhouse in Spotsylvania County with her 13-year-old son, her boyfriend, and family, earlier this month, according to reports. 

Rachel Myrick, the victim bitten by the reptile on Sept. 12, was released from Mary Washington Hospital on Sunday. The eight-inch long reptile bit her three times in her foot and toes while she was in the restaurant’s foyer. “I freaked out,” Myrick told The Free Lance-Star. The snake bite caused swelling that spread past her knee. She also experienced swelling on her hip and left thigh.

Myrick would require three months to recover completely. Currently, she is using a crutch to help her walk. “There’s very little that I can do. I can’t work. I can’t take my kids anywhere,” she said.

When she was bitten, Myrick, who was wearing sandals, initially thought it was a bee that stung her in the foot, but she soon realized the severe pain in her left foot was more serious than just a sting. “I got bit!” she recalled yelling.

“There was no question what it was,” said her boyfriend Michael Clem. It was a copperhead snake.

Clem called the rescue squad as his girlfriend stood screaming and crying in disbelief. “They say that your life can change in a moment… and they’re absolutely correct,” she said. Once the paramedics arrived, she was transferred to Mary Washington Hospital.

Copperhead snakes bite more people in than any other snake species in the United States, according to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Service. Although their bites are typically not fatal to humans but are serious and the victim needs immediate medical attention. 

LongHorn Steakhouse spokesperson Hunter Robinson told CBS affiliate WTVR in an email that immediately after the incident, the restaurant also called 911 and helped the victim. “Our primary concern is for the well-being of Ms. Myrick, and we want to provide any assistance we can,” Robinson wrote.

The spokesperson also mentioned they were also investigating how the snake got into the restaurant’s foyer. “This was a highly unusual incident, and we are working with our facilities team to see how this may have occurred and we are taking steps to prevent it from happening again,” Robinson said.

Copperheads are said to strike without a warning if they feel threatened, unlike other venomous snakes. They have hemotoxic venom, according to herpetologist Jeff Beane, collections manager of amphibians and reptiles at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. A copperhead bite "often results in temporary tissue damage in the immediate area of bite," Beane was quoted as saying in a report published by Live Science.com. Their bite may be painful but "is very rarely (almost never) fatal to humans," he added. 

If children, elderly people, and others have a compromised immune system, they are likely to have strong reactions to the venom of copperhead snakes. Copperhead "behavior is very much like that of most other pit vipers," Beane said in the article, comparing the species to rattlesnakes and water moccasins. Pit vipers have "heat-sensory pits between eye and nostril on each side of head," he mentioned, and therefore the reptiles have the capability to detect minute differences in temperature and as a result strike precisely the source of the heat, which is often their potential prey.

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