Rattlesnake startles 78-year-old hiker and bites her on ankle, Arizona hospital says

A 78-year-old hiker was caught off guard when a rattlesnake bit her on an Arizona trail, a health system said.

Martha Troy, a retired nurse, was with her daughter and granddaughter at the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area in Cave Creek on Feb. 17, Banner Health said in a news release.

They were headed back to the trailhead when Troy heard rattling noises, the hospital said. But before she could do anything, the snake bit her ankle.

She was taken to a hospital in the area, then transported to the Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, where she recovered from the rattlesnake bite, the hospital said.

Martha Troy, 78, was treated for a rattlesnake bite on Feb. 17 at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.
Martha Troy, 78, was treated for a rattlesnake bite on Feb. 17 at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.

Troy was the first rattlesnake bite patient of the year at the hospital, the medical center said. The hospital sees 50 to 60 rattlesnake bites every year.

Now she’s warning other hikers to take precautions while in the desert.

“Do not walk off-trail, look ahead on the ground, and back off if you hear a rattle,” Troy said in the release. “Know what treatment you should and should not do for a rattlesnake bite, and get help immediately if you experience one.”

Anyone bitten by a rattlesnake should call 911 immediately, Banner Health said.

Cave Creek is about 30 miles north of downtown Phoenix.

Rattlesnakes in Arizona

Rattlesnake season starts in March and runs through October, according to the City of Buckeye.

Hikers should take extra precautions to avoid running into these snakes, including looking out for them basking in the sun.

A flashlight should also be used if the sun goes down during a hike because rattlesnakes are more active at night during the summer months, city officials said.

Hikers should also avoid reaching into bushes or holes and other places where they can’t see.

What to know about snake bites

Venomous snakes bite more than 7,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“About 5 of those people die,” the CDC said. “The number of deaths would be much higher if people did not seek medical care.”

Rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and coral snakes are all venomous snakes that live in the U.S.

If you see a snake, back away slowly and don’t touch it. Here’s what the CDC says you should do if a snake bites you:

  • Try to remember the color and shape of the snake. It could help with treating the bite.

  • Stay calm and still to slow down the spread of venom.

  • Seek medical care as soon as possible.

  • Apply first aid if you can’t get to the hospital quickly.

  • Wash the wound with warm, soapy water.

  • Cover the bite with a clean cloth or dressing.

  • Don’t slash the wound with a knife or try to suck out venom.

  • Don’t apply ice to the wound.

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