Riverview girl bitten after mistaking coral snake for necklace

- A 10-year-old girl from Riverview thought she spotted a necklace on her doorstep, but it turned out to be a venomous snake.

Her mom, Lourdes Pajak, told FOX 13 Hailey is very lucky after the encounter, considering it was a coral snake. Hailey was even able to return to school Thursday.

The family lives in the Panther Trace subdivision in Riverview.

Earlier this week, Hailey thought she saw a pretty necklace lying on the front doorstep of her Panther Trace subdivision home in Riverview. She decided to pick it up.

Hailey then told her mom her hand started tingling and she began to feel achy and stiff. They rushed her to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Riverview, but the hospital didn’t have any antivenin.

Hailey was then placed in an ambulance and rushed to Tampa General Hospital, where they did have the medication she needed. 

Unfortunately, Hailey had a bad reaction to the antivenin and spent a couple of nights in the hospital. She broke out in hives and felt miserable, Pajak said. 

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, a bite from a coral snake could be fatal and a victim should receive immediate medical attention. However, doctors say if bite victims get timely treatment for a coral snake bite they'll be OK. 

"Where it might be risky is if you don't have access to medical care if you're out in the woods somewhere," said Alfred Aleguas, director of the Florida Poison Information Center at Tampa General Hospital.

Coral snakes can be confused with two harmless snakes in Florida, the Scarlet Kingsnake and Scarlet Snake. A distinguishing factor between them are their colors. The coral snake has a black snout, while the other two have red snouts.

If you're not sure "The best recommendation is to leave it alone," said Chris Massaro, curator at Lowry Park Zoo.

Pajak wants her daughter's experience to be a warning to other families.

She said construction and development around the area of their home could be pushing the snakes out and near homes. She plans to have her yard sprayed so neither her daughter nor anyone else is harmed again.

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