Irma recovery: Fla. Department of Health warns of risks from displaced animals

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has advised people to protect themselves from animals that may have been displaced by Irma's rain.


Snakes may be swimming in the water to get to higher ground and could be hiding under debris or other objects. If you see a snake, back away slowly and don't touch it.

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You may not feel a snake bite if you're walking in high water, the health department says. Signs and symptoms of a bite include:

  • A pair of puncture marks at the wound
  • Redness and swelling around the bite
  • Severe pain at the site of the bite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Labored breathing, extreme cases may cause breathing to stop altogether
  • Disturbed vision
  • Increased salivation and sweating
  • Numbness or tingling around face and/or limbs

If you've experienced a snake bite, try to see the color and skin pattern of the snake. This can help with treatment of the bite. Also, keep the person calm and still, as this can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is poisonous. Call 911, apply first aid if you can't get the person to a hospital, cover the bite with clean, dry dressing, and lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.

Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it.

Other things not to do include: applying a tourniquet, slash the wound with a knife, suck out the venom, apply ice or put the wound in water, drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages.

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Fire Ants

During floods, fire ant colonies are capable of floating in clusters or "rafts." Do not disturb or stand on or near ant mounds. Colonies can also form under rocks, wood or other debris on the ground, edges of bodies of water, trash cans and areas with food or sugary drinks.

Fire ants can enter structures through cracks and crevices after rainfall. Entire colonies will occasionally migrate into structures and nest in walls and children's or immobile person's beds.

Look over the area before you start to work. Fire ants can be found on trees or in water. Be careful when lifting items off the ground.

Anyone with a history of allergic reactions to insect bites or stings should talk to their doctor.

If you do get bit by fire ants; rub off ants briskly as they will attach to your skin with their jaws. Antihistamines may help, follow the directions on the package.

Seek medical attention if a sting causes severe chest pain, nausea, severe sweating, loss of breath, serious swelling or slurred speech.

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Rodents often relocate in search of food, water and shelter. Removing food, water and items that provide shelter for rodents is the best way to prevent contact.

Clean areas with sign of rodent activity and dispose of garbage inside and outside your home.

For more information visit Florida Health's website or Florida Disaster's website.

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