Copperhead

A copperhead is a venomous snake native to the central Piedmont. This one is housed at the CCSB Reptile Rescue and Rehab Center in Kernersville.

Walt Unks/Winston-Salem Journal/

GREENSBORO — Yes, those snake bites stiiiiing. And so will the bill if the snake is venomous.

Medical providers don't like talking costs because they don't want to dissuade people from seeking treatment.

And this year, there have been a lot of people needing it.

In the spring, a student at Pleasant Garden Elementary was bitten by a snake while on the playground.

Around the same time, an 11-year-old boy running from a friend was bitten by a snake at his outdoor birthday party.

According to the Carolinas Poison Control Center, calls about snake bites two months ago have nearly quadrupled since last year. The center says it received 71 calls about snake bites in April, compared to 19 during that month last year.

Officials think the spike may have to do with the mild winter.

And while snake bites are obviously painful, so, too, is the cost of being treated for them.

The total depends on what the hospital charges, how much care is needed — people who have other medical conditions may experience more problems — and insurance coverage.

A couple near Mooresville received an $89,000 bill in 2014 after an 18-hour emergency room visit, which included four vials of antivenin, according to The Charlotte Observer. They fought the bill, which was lowered through insurer BlueCross BlueShield to about $20,000. They ended up having to pay about $5,400.

CroFab is the antivenin of choice for many hospitals and the wholesale price is about $2,800 to $3,300 per vial, according to BlueCross BlueShield spokesman Lew Borman. The number of vials needed could vary depending on the patient.

And then there are related costs that can inflate the bill, such as an ambulance ride, treatment in an emergency room or hospitalization. 

Bottom line: A snake bite will take a chunk out of your wallet.

Still, health officials say that not every bite should result in a trip to the emergency room.

There are 37 species of snakes in North Carolina, but only six of them are venomous, according to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. 

In the hierarchy of the state's venomous snakes, a rattlesnake bite is the worst, but copperheads are more common in the area. 

The Carolinas Poison Control Center said it receives about 10 times the number of calls about copperhead bites than all other snake species combined.

Anna Dulaney, a toxicologist with the group, said "if bitten, the first thing to do is don’t panic."

That could apply to seeing the bill, too.

Contact Nancy McLaughlin at 336-373-7049 and follow @nmclaughlinNR on Twitter.