It was the only venomous snake bite that he or any of his colleagues in that area had ever heard about. They assumed rattlesnake only because that was the only known venomous snake in the state.
Since we have no other reports of this species anywhere in that area, we don’t consider this a current population and we wonder if it was even an historic population. Any reports over 25 years old are considered historic. Snakes occasionally get moved around in hay, old cars, pieces
Rattlesnake antivenin would not help with the bite of other snakes. According to the reports in the paper they seemed unaware that rattlesnakes can control the amount of venom released. Between 25% and 40% of bites are dry bites that contain no venom at all. Dr. Bont did not see any hemolysis, which he should have seen if venom was injected, but he did mention other symptoms that suggest envenomation.
At the remaining two locations where we know we currently have Timber Rattlesnakes we get multiple reports and photos of sightings every year.
So, the snake could have been among the last surviving rattlesnakes in that area, it could have been accidentally transported, or it could have been another transported species (Copperhead).
Elizabeth Cillo (working for us) contacted Dr. Gene Bont, and he wrote her back on November 6, 2000. His letter read as follows:
Dear Ms. Cillo:
Sorry for the delay in answering your letter, but it took some time to recall the details of the snakebite involving Mrs. Laitinen.
To my best memory, she was hiking on Okemo Mountain and some of her party came across a snake. She tried to get the snake to move with a long stick, but he attacked her and bit her in the leg. She was concerned because she was quite sure it was a rattlesnake and shortly afterwards felt lightheaded and a feeling of not being well. She was brought down to my office where on examination there were the four marks typical of a rattlesnake bite. There was mild redness and swelling. Because of the nature of the bite, she was hospitalized fearing neurological and hematological consequences. I called the state health department as I had been in practice for many years and had never had a snakebite incident and no one else in the hospital recalled such an incident either. As it happened there was a public health person from Florida whose specialty was venomous snake bites. Within a few hours he drove down with someone from the health department to Springfield Hospital and examined her. By this time we had done blood tests and there was no evidence of hemolysis going on and after careful examination, it was his conclusion that it was indeed a venomous snakebite. From her description of the snake and knowing that a timber rattler was the only venomous snake in the area, his conclusion was that the snake must have eaten and pretty much emptied its venom before she was struck. She had some paresthesias of numbness and tingling in the extremity, but no serious effects were noted. She was kept for observation for 48 hours and was released. This is the only such episode I have ever been involved in.
I’ll give you a call to let you know this letter is coming as I read about Dr. Andrews research in the newspaper and was really curious about it so this adds a good deal of interest on my part.
Thanks for your letter and again my apology for late return.