Fairfield boy attacked by venomous snake while on vacation in Tennessee

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – An 11-year-old Fairfield boy is recovering after being attacked by a venomous snake this week while on vacation in Tennessee.

Ethan Aldridge, a student at Fairfield Middle School, was hiking with his family by the Ocoee River near Chattanooga, Tennessee at about 7 p.m. Monday when a copperhead snake lunged out and bit him.

Aldridge was climbing on some rocks when he felt a sharp pain in his left hand and spotted the snake. He was flown to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga for treatment and was released from the hospital Wednesday.

"My finger is still numb from the bite, but otherwise it's pretty good, painless." Aldridge said.

According to WDEF-TV in Tennessee , Aldridge is one of 13 people in the Tennessee Valley recently bitten by venomous snakes. Five of the victims were children.

Aldridge said doctors told him he is very lucky the venom didn't travel through his body. They said his hand will heal, but slowly.

"My pain is going to (last) for another week to ten days, but the swelling is going to last for like a month," he said.

Aldridge’s mother, Jenette Mulholland, said she was with her son when he was bitten and did some quick research on her smartphone to figure out what to do next.

"The joy of having a smartphone is I was able to look up very quickly what we needed to do," she said. "I looked at him and said, 'I know it hurts, but you need to calm down.' He took a deep breath… and immediately did what he was told to do."

Mulholland said she's thankful her son is alive and his hand should be back to normal soon.

“It doesn’t look like he’s going to lose any tissue but that’s always a possibility with a snake bite," she said. "He does have some dead tissue. But it’s not to the extent he’s going to lose mobility in his hand.”

Aldridge is expected to be okay. He said he will go back to Fairfield with a good story to tell. But for now, he has some advice for other children playing outdoors.

"Be careful and look before you step or put your hand somewhere," he said.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you see a snake in your home, immediately call the animal control agency in your county.

If you or someone else is bitten by a snake:

  • Try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.
  • Keep the bitten person still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is poisonous.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • Apply first aid if you cannot get the person to the hospital right away.
    • Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.
    • Tell him/her to stay calm and still.
    • Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.

The CDC says you should NOT do the following if you or someone else is bitten by a snake:

  • Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it (this may put you or someone else at risk for a bite).
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Do not slash the wound with a knife.
  • Do not suck out the venom.
  • Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water.
  • Do not drink alcohol as a pain killer.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages.
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