Sussex Animal worker in snakebite scare

9 June 2010, 11:28

An animal rescue worker almost died after a poisonous snake bit him twice while he was trying to help it.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service founder Trevor Weeks, from Uckfield, East Sussex, went into shock and doctors feared he might not survive after he was rushed to hospital with bites to both his hands.

He would have been the first person in Britain to die of a snake bite in 35 years.

He was trying to free two adders trapped in netting when one lashed out.

Mr Weeks said: "The snake was very wriggly and clearly a youngster. He bit my finger and as I reacted, he bit my other hand and it was a venomous bite.

"I lost consciousness twice, the second time for 15 to 20 minutes.

"Luckily there was a specialist in A&E who had dealt with snake bites before. I had no idea how bad it had been until much later."

The bite left his arms so swollen doctors were worried any intervention could kill him, but they were able to get an anti-venom to him in time after the swelling went down. He was released after a night at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton on Saturday.

Despite his brush with death, Mr Weeks insists adders, a protected British species, are not a danger to the public.

He said: "I wouldn't want anyone worrying about snakes in their gardens as a result of this.

"Normally one-off snake bites are not venomous but you can still suffer from anaphylactic reactions, most of which can be dealt with very easily."

There have been only 14 reported deaths caused by adder bites since 1876 in the UK, most recently in 1975.