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A rattlesnake bit Cary Elwes. Here's what to do if it happens to you

Cary Elwes, shown here in 2019, says he is recovering from a snake bite.
Rich Polk
Getty Images for IMDb
Cary Elwes, shown here in 2019, says he is recovering from a snake bite.

The Princess Bride star Cary Elwes says he is "recovering well" after being bitten by a rattlesnake.

"Bit not by a ROUS but a rattlesnake," Elwes joked on Twitter, a reference to the Rodents Of Unusual Size in the hit 1987 film. He also shared a photo of his swollen, discolored finger.

The actor was working outside his Malibu home when the snake bit him, and he was later airlifted to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Entertainment Weekly reported.

Elwes is one of the roughly 7,000 to 8,000 people who are bitten by venomous snakes in the U.S. each year, and about five of those people die, according to federal data.

Here's what experts say to do if you have a run-in with the deadly reptile:

How to know if you've been bitten by a snake

About 20% of snakes in the U.S. are venomous, according to the Mayo Clinic. That includes rattlesnakes and others such as water moccasins and coral snakes.

Venomous snakes sometimes swim in water or hide under debris. If you spot a snake in your home, you should call their local animal control authorities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It's a bad idea to try to trap a snake yourself.

You may be unsure whether you've gotten a snake bite or an unrelated injury. Some signs of a bite include puncture marks at the site of the wound, pain and swelling as well as neurological symptoms such as blurred vision or numbness and tingling of your face and limbs.

If you are bitten, try to remember the color and shape of the snake, because that may help medical professionals treat your injury.

Don't apply a tourniquet or suck out the venom. Instead, try to stay calm and call 911

You've been bitten by a snake. Now what?

First of all, find a safe place to sit down and try to stay calm, since that can help slow the spread of venom in your body. Call 911.

The international Asclepius Snakebite Foundation suggests circling the site of the bite with a Sharpie and writing the time next to it. You should keep a list of your symptoms and periodically update it, as that could help the medical team that treats you.

The foundation recommends removing jewelry and watches, which will be much harder to get off if your limbs start to swell.

If you begin to experience anaphylaxis, including swelling of the face and throat, hives or difficulty breathing, use an EpiPen if you have one. The CDC also suggests washing the wound with warm, soapy water and covering it with a clean, dry dressing.

Experts say that, unlike in the movies, you should not try to slice open the wound and suck out the venom. Don't apply a tourniquet for any snake bit. And don't drink alcohol to try to ease the pain.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez
[Copyright 2024 NPR]