Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bites and Stings and Itching- Oh My!

Summer time is in full force which means the bugs and snakes are out and about! While no one ever wants to have encounters with dangerous bugs or snakes, sometimes it cannot be helped. The important ones to keep an eye out for are the ones that can be harmful and are considered venomous. The Texas Poison Center Network wants you to be aware of dangers you and your loved ones could come across this time of year.

Snakes to Look Out for in Texas


A cottonmouth snake can reach lengths of up to five feet long. Commonly called a water moccasin, these snakes enjoy being near bodies of water and are usually are dark black color with wide bands on its body. This type of snake can be aggressive so keep your eyes open when playing by lakes, ponds and rivers.


Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
The Western Diamondback rattlesnake is one of the most common snakes you will find in Texas. It can reach lengths of up to seven feet and has a triangular shaped head. They will often times spend their days hiding in low-growing shrubs or rocks. The most identifiable part of this snake is their rattle but it is also covered in a diamond-shaped pattern, hence its name. They are not usually aggressive unless their habitat is disturbed or threatened, so watch where you are walking when out on hikes!


These snakes reach about 30 inches long and have a reddish-brown head with coppery bodies. These snakes are usually not aggressive and most people only get bitten by accidently stepping on them. The reason it might be easy to step on one is because they blend in so well with oak leaves and other vegetation. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and where you are walking when in wooded or park areas.

Coral Snake

Coral Snake
This snake is the most colorful of the bunch, only reaching about 2 feet in length. They are not too hard to miss with their bright red, black and yellow rings on the body. Coral snakes can be extremely dangerous due to their venom, especially in children. Their mouths are quite small so they have an easier time of biting young children than they do an adult. It is best to avoid these snakes and remember the saying: Red touching yellow, kills a fellow, while red touching black, venom they lack!
Creepy Crawlers to Look Out for in Texas

Bugs love the heat, especially the ones that bite! From mosquitoes and bees to flies and fleas, here is a list of the ones you should really keep your eye out for!

Bees and Wasps

You might see some wasps, yellow jackets, bees or hornets buzzing around your home. If so, they most likely have built a nest somewhere on the outside of your home or in hollow places that do not get disturbed. When it is light out, look around your home to see if you can find the nest.  If so, you should call a professional to take care of it.  Never try to remove the nest yourself.  Keep in mind that if the nest is not dealt with properly, there can be dangerous consequences up to and including death from multiple stings.  Anyone with a possible allergy to these bugs can find themselves in a life-threatening situation from even a single sting. 


Black Widow
The good news is most spiders are not dangerous to humans.   In Texas, the two spiders to keep an eye out for are the brown recluse and the black widow. Both of these spiders like to  
Brown Recluse
hang out in dark areas where there isn’t much draft. The only time they might bite is if they feel threatened. Unfortunately, with most spider bites, you won’t even feel them. That is why it is important that anytime you find a suspecting bite on your body or your child’s, that you call the poison center for treatment recommendations.

Mosquitoes are peskier than anything, but they can also carry some icky diseases including West Nile Virus and malaria. The best way to avoid mosquitoes around your home is to get rid of any standing water, including bird baths. Standing water is the perfect breeding spot for mosquitoes. The best time to stay indoors to reduce your chances of being bitten is at twilight/during the evening when they are most active.  If you must go out at this time, make sure you use mosquito repellent on all exposed areas.

Ticks can be found in dense brush and wooded areas. If you plan on taking a hike or going around heavily wooded areas, make sure to cover your skin with clothing and use tick repellent where skin is visible to eliminate chances of being bit. If you do find a tick embedded in your skin, the best thing you can do is remove it with tweezers.  Call the poison center for information on how to remove the tick or treat the open wound it may leave behind.

Remember, if you run across any of these snakes or bugs and happen to get bitten or stung, please do not hesitate to contact a poison center for help at 1-800-222-1222. They are always there and always free and can provide help on how to treat the bite and more.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

K2: A Dangerous Drug with Scary Consequences

It’s been all over the news lately. Case after case of kids ending up in the emergency room due to use of K2 or a similar synthetic compound. In Austin, Texas alone, officials have treated roughly 390 patients and responded to 355 calls regarding K2 only within a month’s time frame (May 29 to June 29, 2015).

K2, also referred to as “Spice” is a mix of dried plans and herbs that have been sprayed with a compound similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. Cases of people using K2 have increased exponentially in the past several months which is why we want to warn you of the dangers of using this dangerous drug.

Below are some common symptoms that come from using K2:

·         Heart rate and blood pressure both get to low levels

·         Higher body temperatures

·         In some cases seizures

·         Violent and aggressive behavior

·         Anxiety and paranoia

·         Hallucinations

·         Drowsiness

·         Vomiting

When it comes to K2 and other synthetic compounds, you should protect yourself and stay away from these very harmful drugs. If you or someone you know has used K2, please do not hesitate to contact a Texas Poison Center today for help. It could potentially save you emergency room visit fees and your health. Do you have questions concerning these drugs? Call us about that too- 1-800-222-1222. Poison Control is here to help!

Monday, June 15, 2015

It’s National Safety Month: Learn More about Prescription Painkiller Abuse

Did you know that injuries are the leading cause of disabilities for all ages and the leading cause for death in Americans age 1 to 44 years old? It’s important to practice safety first whether it be transportation safety, emergency preparedness or even slips, trips and falls. But the main issue plaguing many Americans these days is prescription painkiller abuse and this is a major safety issue when it comes to people’s lives.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that prescription painkiller abuse has reached epidemic levels. Deaths by overdose of painkillers have surpassed the deaths from heroin and cocaine combined. It was reported in 2010 that roughly 12 million Americans reported non-medical use of prescription painkillers in that year alone. Why are Americans abusing painkillers? Most state they use the drugs just to enjoy the “high”.
Want to hear some even scarier data? There were enough painkillers prescribed in 2010 alone that could essentially medicate every adult in the U.S. for an entire month! While these prescriptions were legally prescribed, many of the medications still end up in the hands of people they are not prescribed for leading to incredible amounts of misuse and abuse. Some popular prescription painkillers include: Vicodin, OxyContin and methadone.

The Texas Poison Center Network wants you to know that we can fix this epidemic and change statistics for the better. Here’s what you can do to help eliminate prescription painkiller abuse:

·         If you are prescribed pain medication, never share your prescription with anyone.

·         Make sure to use the prescription only as directed by your healthcare provider.

·         Store medications in a secure location and out of reach of children.

·         Read warning labels because some medications cannot be taken with certain things including alcohol.

·         Keep medication in its proper bottle or original container.

·         Monitor the use of prescriptions by children and teenagers to ensure they do not misuse or abuse.

·         Dispose of medication properly when you no longer need it. (http://www.poisoncontrol.org/news/topics/disposing-of-medication.cfm)  

·         Participate in National Drug Take Back Days that take place in your community.

If you have concerns regarding prescription painkillers and the use or abuse of them, please do not hesitate to contact your local Texas poison center. Dial 1-800-222-1222 for immediate help and assistance today- they are available around the clock for your poisoning concerns and needs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Dangers from Flooding that You Don’t Always Hear

Within the past month, several major areas of Texas have been hit with severe flooding leaving damage to people’s homes and properties including the loss of loved ones.  While we know flooding can be dangerous, there are sometimes hidden dangers that come with high floods in usually dry areas.

The Texas Poison Center Network wants to share with you some dangers that can persist after the floodwaters have subsided so that you stay informed and keep your family safe from potential poisons. Check out the list compiled below on things to look out for in flooded or recently flooded areas.


·         With all the rain, snakes, including venomous ones, have been washed up into areas where they might not usually be seen. If you see a snake, try to avoid it at all costs. For your own safety, do not handle any wildlife.

·         If you are bitten by a snake, please seek medical attention and contact a poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate help and advice on appropriate first aid that should be done on site. Additionally our nurses, pharmacists and physicians can tell you what NOT to do as many misconceptions and myths persist in regards to snakebites.


·         Standing water is a breeding ground for pesky mosquitos. Make sure you drain any standing water around your home including empty buckets, cans and even flowerpots.

·         Mosquitos may become a real nuisance after all the rain, so make sure you use a repellent that contains DEET (for children over the age of 2 months, applied once a day) to help avoid mosquito-borne illnesses. Please follow the directions on the label for its use.  

·         If possible, avoid being outside at dusk and dawn. If you have to be outside, wear clothing that provides optimal coverage.

Contaminated water

·         Keep children away from standing flood water or storm drains. The water could be contaminated and unsafe.

·         One of the biggest threats is posed by fecal coliform bacteria contamination in floodwater. Fecal coliform bacteria, such as E.coli from human and animal waste, gets stirred up during a flood.  In addition, follow “boil water” alerts that may be issued and do not drink water from unknown sources.

·         Flooded homes might now have issues of mold. It is best to hire a professional to have this checked out and ensure your home is safe to live in.

Lack of electricity

·         If you are in an area without electricity, please use precautions when using generators and other power or heat sources that might produce carbon monoxide.  Carbon monoxide poisoning in the home is very dangerous and because it is a colorless and odorless gas, it can happen without you even being aware.

·         For more info on carbon monoxide poisoning, please see http://www.poisoncontrol.org/docs/fact-sheets/carbon-monoxide.pdf.

 If you have any questions concerning toxins or poisons associated with floods, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network. They are waiting to help you 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May Marks Food Allergy Month

During the month of May, we want you to be aware of food allergies and how they can affect your health. It’s Food Allergy Action Month and we are encouraging Texans to take action and become better informed about the dangers of food allergies.

It is important that the public stay informed and read labels on the food they buy. If you or a family member suffers from a food allergy, this is especially important. Nearly 30,000 individuals within the United States make a trip to the emergency room each year to get treated for an allergic reaction to a food they have consumed.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy results when the immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein, also known as an allergen, as a threat and attacks it. A food allergy can cause serious risk to your body which is why awareness is incredibly important.

What are the symptoms of food allergy?

Here are a list of the most common symptoms:

• Hives, itching, or skin rash
• Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body
• Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
• Dizziness or lightheadedness

If the allergy becomes life-threatening, symptoms can include:

• Swelling of the throat making it difficult to breathe
• Wheezing or nasal congestion
• An extreme drop in blood pressure
• A rapid or irregular pulse
• Loss of consciousness

It is important to protect your family and know what food allergies could potentially be dangerous to you and them. If you suspect you or someone in your family might have a food allergy, please take the time to visit your primary care physician or an allergist to be evaluated, diagnosed and treated. For more information on diagnosis and testing of food allergies, please visit http://www.foodallergy.org/diagnosis-and-testing.

If you are concerned about a possible food allergy or any type of reaction to your body, or have any questions about poison, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network for help 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222. If the allergic reaction is life-threatening, please call 9-1-1.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beware of a New Street Drug Called “Flakka”

A dangerous new synthetic drug has been showing up on the streets. Known as “flakka”, it is very similar in nature to bath salts and has very serious side effects if ingested. The name of the drug comes from its similarity to gravel. What makes this drug incredibly dangerous is that it is currently cheap and legal.

Here’s what you need to know:

-It’s also called “$5 insanity” because it causes users to have severe delusions and develop an almost super human strength
-It is highly addictive
-It can be swallowed, snorted, injected or even put in an e-cigarette

-The health problems can be significant with body temperature levels reaching 105 or 106 degree Fahrenheit thus causing kidney damage among other issues
-It is a designer drug that not even toxicology tests can detect

If you or someone you know has ingested flakka, immediately call a Texas poison control center for assistance at 1-800-222-1222.

Synthetics Forum May 6th

Calls to Poison Centers about synthetic drugs are on the rise across the country. We're proud to announce that Dr. Ashley Haynes of the North Texas Poison Center, in collaboration with the Collin County Substance Abuse Coalition and Children's Health, will be a presenter at a one-of-a-kind synthetics forum "Lethal High: How Synthetic Drugs are Killing Youth" for health care professionals on May 6. To register for the event, please click here:


Monday, April 6, 2015

Celebrate National Public Health Week April 6th-12th, 2015!

National Public Health Week is a great time to get better informed about your health and an important time to highlight health issues that are significant to you and your community. According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), the United States trails other countries in life expectancy and other measures of good health for all ages. While the U.S. has some of the best doctors in the world, our health still ranks poorly when compared to other countries.

The Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN) wants to remind the public that poisonings are still the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the United States. By becoming better informed and taking the right precautions, we can help change this. Poison prevention is critical to the health of this nation. The most important tool the poison centers provide the public with is the national poison control toll-free number, 1-800-222-1222. Experts in toxicology, trained nurses, doctors and pharmacists are all waiting by the phone to answer your calls regarding poison-related questions, concerns or injuries.

Here are some important health tips from the TPCN:

-Always store medications up and out-of-reach of children. It is vital that children do not have access to medications without adult supervision.

-If you are unsure about taking two types of medications together, please contact the poison center for assistance.

-Never share medications with others that are prescribed to you.

-Keep potential poisons in their original container.

-Do not sniff chemical containers if you do not know what is inside. This can be extremely dangerous to your health.

If you do come in contact with a potential poison, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Today is a great time to go ahead and save this number in your phone. You never know when you might need it!

During this week, take the time to engage with others to figure out how we as a nation can change the health of America so that it is a leading country in public health. And most importantly, learn about poison prevention to ensure you and your family stay safe and healthy.