Local 8-year-old is bitten by a pygmy rattle snake

OKEECHOBEE — Eight-year-old Coby Cox was enjoying a visit with his grandparents in Estero, Fla. on Saturday, Dec. 1, when he was bitten by a pygmy rattle snake while walking across the yard. Coby said he thought maybe a bee or a wasp stung him on the ankle. It hurt, but not as bad as he would have thought a snake bite would hurt. He walked over to show his grandparents, who thought maybe he had stepped in an ant bed, but when he removed his sock, his grandmother could see blood on his ankle and knew something was not right.

Coby Cox was bitten by a rattler.

Coby said everyone retraced his steps because he hadn’t really gone very far, and they found the snake still lying in the path. Coby said his Poppy grabbed a log from the fire and smashed the snake over and over with it. Then they put him in the car, grabbed the snake in case the hospital needed to see it and called 911.

Coby’s mom Katie Cox explained the grandparents live way out in the country, and they wanted to be sure the ambulance could find him quickly so they met the ambulance at the main highway.

The firefighters were first on the scene, and they took the snake in order to verify it was indeed a rattler. They realized it was not actually dead, and one of them used a pair of pliers to cut off the snake’s head. Because Coby was alert and responsive, they called off the med flight that was on the way and continued the trip by ambulance to Lee Memorial Hospital in Ft. Myers.

Because Lee Memorial did not feel equipped to handle an 8-year-old snake bite victim, Coby was almost immediately transferred to Galisano Children’s Hospital in Ft. Myers. Mrs. Cox said about the time she and Coby’s dad arrived from Okeechobee, Coby was being transferred to the new hospital. She was shocked to find out they had not given him any anti-venom at that point, as she had assumed it would need to be given immediately. She explained, they told her they normally monitor the patient to see if it is needed before they administer it.

Coby was monitored until Monday when the doctor told Mrs. Cox she did not think he was getting any better. His calf was swelling. They sent his labs and information to the University of Miami, and one hour later received word back advising them to start him on anti-venom.

Anti-venom can have serious risks associated with it, and that is why they hesitated, especially when considering his age. One of their biggest concerns was anaphylactic shock so they had to get a team ready in case of emergency.

They began Coby on a very slow drip and his mom said he seemed fine at first so they turned it up faster. That’s when things went south really fast. She said his ears turned bright red, and he sat straight up in bed and began screaming! They stopped the drip immediately, and then tried turning it back on slowly again, but he started screaming again and said his chest hurt.

They had to stop the treatment completely at that point because the risks just outweighed the benefits.

They put him on Benadryl and Tylenol and just monitored him after that. His temperature went up to 103, but the doctor said that was from the anti-venom. Mrs. Cox said he was completely out of it on Monday and part of Tuesday with vomiting and fever, but by Wednesday, he was completely back to normal. He was up out of bed walking for the first time since Saturday and had only a slight limp, as if he had sprained his ankle.

Coby said he was not too scared, maybe a little. He was more worried that he wouldn’t get to go to his last soccer game on Saturday, but the doctor told him he can play, and he can go to his soccer party afterward.

He is not as excited about going back to North Elementary in Okeechobee on Monday where he will get the chance to tell his fellow third graders all about his adventures. His favorite part about being in the hospital was every room has a PlayStation, and his mom said that really helped him not think about being in the hospital. Coby doesn’t know what his Poppy did with the snake. He said he didn’t get any rattles off of it because it didn’t have any. Too bad – that would have been an awesome show and tell.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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