Girl, 5, bitten by rattlesnake shares story

Saniyah Colon was bitten near her home

SAN DIEGO - A young girl described a trip to her Spring Valley condo complex's swimming pool that turned into an emergency visit to the hospital.

"I was going to the swimming pool with my brother and I thought this rattlesnake was a stick so I just stepped down and it just bit me," said 5-year-old Saniyah Colon.

Saniyah said the snake bit her foot and she began to cry. Fortunately, one of her older brothers and her mother were nearby.

"It's scary; it's something that you don't prepare yourself for, so I just had to pull myself together so I could help her and she wouldn't be scared," said her mother, Samatra Ethridge.

Ethridge said within minutes, emergency crews responded and were able to treat her. At first, Ethridge said firefighters thought it was a garden snake, but then one of her sons looked up a picture on the Internet and realized the snake that bit Colon was the venomous type.

A Rady Children's Hospital representative said within the past 12 months, their hospital staff has treated 10 children with rattlesnake bites. Two of those victims were just within the past month, including Colon.

Dr. Katherine Konzen said the first thing anyone should do is call 911. She also said victims should remain calm and be sure not to move the affected area.

"You want to keep the affected area below the level of the heart because you want less of that venom circulating," Konzen said.

Antivenin needs to be applied within the first two hours to reduce injury, Kozen added.

About 300 rattlesnake bite cases are reported in California every year, according to the California Poison Control System. Bites from rattlesnakes can produce painful swelling, bruising, tissue destruction and can be deadly if not treated immediately.

Lt. Kalani Hudson with the San Diego County Department of Animal Services said it is critical that families watch children and pets closely because snakes often hide in the brush.

Hudson also said that maintaining brushy areas on one's property is also crucial during rattlesnake season. Most bites reported in Southern California occur between April and October.

Soniyah had this advice for other kids: "Don't go through the backyard, there are lots of rattlesnakes back there."

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