Beaufort County Man Recovers From Two Copperhead Bites

A Beaufort County man who went through a harrowing experience recently when he was bitten twice by a copperhead snake has a warning and advice for others.

Jeffrey Barker, who lives on the outskirts of Washington, says the snake bit him once on each hand and says people in Eastern North Carolina need to be aware that poisonous snakes are out there, and getting too close, could put any person in a dangerous situation.

Barker, who says he's been a snake person all his life and had snakes growing up, admits getting bit was a product of his own carelessness.

Barker says he was cutting the grass when he saw a 2-foot snake in his yard. When he went to nudge it out of the way, assuming it would retreat, it attacked.

Barker says, "He was as quick a strike as I ever remember seeing in a snake. Now, it had been a lot of years since I had been bitten by a snake."

Researching on the internet after the bites, Barker realized it was a copperhead and could feel the effects right away.

Barker says, "This was a special kind of pain, one that I don't remember having. I mean it wasn't excruciating, but it was just special. Very sharp, and very quick. Much quicker than I would have expected."

Barker was rushed to Vidant Beaufort by his wife and was later sent to Vidant in Greenville. The anti-venom caused an allergic reaction: hives, nausea, and swelling of his chest and tongue.

Barker says, "By then I was unconscious. Once my tongue got so thick that I couldn't speak, I don't remember saying anything."

Looking back on the situation, Barker says he wishes he'd been more aware of what kind of snake he was dealing with-he didn't know copperheads lived in a dark, swampy climate like the one behind his home.

Barker's encounter is one of three involving copperheads from August: A woman was bit in Cary, and a copperhead found on a dishwasher in the kitchen of a home in Washington.

With copperhead encounters appearing more frequently, Barker says if you see one, it's best to just stay away.

According to Wake-Med's website, North Carolina had the most snakebites per capita of any other state in the country back in 2010.