OKC Zoo Helps Save Toddler After Pygmy Rattlesnake Bite

Monday, October 5th 2015, 6:38 pm
By: News 9

Pygmy rattlesnake bites have tripled this year in Oklahoma and many of the victims have been children.

A toddler from Lexington received more than 20 vials of anti-venom last month and it still was not working. Doctors had to get creative to find a cure.

The Oklahoma City Zoo has a pygmy snake in its collection and the zoo actually had the life-saving anti-venom for Blake Skinner.

The 17-month-old Lexington boy is so tough he did not even cry when a pygmy rattle snake bit him.

“I looked down and there was four little fang marks and it was already black,” said Letia Skinner, Blake’s mother. “My world stopped. I didn't know what to do. It was panic mode.”

Blake received 22 vials of regular anti-venom, but it was not working and he wound up at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center with Dr. William Banner.

“We were looking at massive plasma and blood transfusions and that might not have even of worked,” said Banner, a pediatric intensivist.

The problem was his blood would not clot because the venom ate up all the clotting material.

“If he would have fallen and busted his nose, he could have bled to death before we could do anything,” Skinner explained.

So Banner reached out to the OKC Zoo, which keeps unconventional anti-venom on hand in case handlers get bit.

“We have various exotic snakes and we have anti-venom stocked from Thailand and South Africa,” said Stacey Sekscienski, zoo curator of reptiles.

Ten vials of the unconventional anti-venom cured Blake.

Pygmy rattlesnake bites are on the rise in Oklahoma, with 13 so far this year. Last year, there were only four.

It is a tiny snake that packs a punch when it bites.

Blake is now back to running around and tiring his mother out.

“Doctor Banner and INTEGRIS and the zoo kind of made my heart beat come back,” Skinner told News 9.

Blake’s successful treatment with the anti-venom from the OKC Zoo led to the treatment of a child in Tulsa with anti-venom from the Tulsa Zoo.