A man in Nixa, Missouri is believed to have been killed by a cottonmouth snake last week after he refused treatment and went to sleep. According to the Springfield News-Leader, 37-year-old Gilbert De Leon was found dead by his girlfriend on Saturday, the day after he received two snake bites while wading through the water at the Delaware Access southwest of Nixa. Although neither De Leon or his girlfriend saw the snake that attacked him, Christian County Coroner Brad Cole said it was most likely a cottonmouth.

“His girlfriend reported that he yelled he’d been bitten by a snake and got out of the river to find he’d been bitten twice—once on each leg,” Cole said. “I’m not sure what kind of snake bit him, but the only venomous water snake I’m aware of is a cottonmouth. It could have been something else, but we just don’t know.”

De Leon’s girlfriend reportedly urged him to go to the hospital and get the bites treated, but the man refused, saying he could not afford the bill. Instead, De Leon used a knife to cut open the wounds and tried to squeeze the venom out himself— the opposite of what many experts suggest doing. Despite what Hollywood may tell you, trying to extract the venom yourself by either squeezing it out or sucking it with your mouth can have few real benefits. Experts instead recommend seeking treatment as soon as possible. When it comes to cottonmouths, CroFab anti-venom is remarkably effective at treating bites.

Judging by the marks on his legs, Cole suspected that the snake that bit De Leon was relatively small. De Leon may also not have known that the snake that bit him was venomous, although his girlfriend noticed symptoms when he laid down to sleep.

“During the night, she thought he was having some labored breathing, but once again, could not get him to go to the doctor or seek medical attention,” Cole told KFOR.

It was a mistake that could cost him his life. Cole said De Leon died during the night.

Wildlife experts advise that victims of a snake bite should always seek medical attention, especially if they did not see the snake that bit them. Missouri has a number of venomous snakes, including the massasauga rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, western pygmy rattlesnake, copperhead, and cottonmouth. Unfortunately, since cottonmouth snakes are often found in the water, many people mistake them for harmless water snakes.

“Sometimes it can be difficult to identify snakes especially in the water,” Warren Rose, an educator with the Missouri Department of Conservation, told KSPR.

Cottonmouth bites are relatively common and can be very dangerous, although fatalities are rare.

Featured image from Facebook and from vastateparksstaff on the flickr Creative Commons

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16 thoughts on “Man Dies from Cottonmouth Bite after Refusing Treatment, Going to Sleep

  1. Well, hell, just the other day I was saying to a friend “We’ve taken lions, and tigers, and bears out of the equation, so we’re not improving as a species anymore” and then this, I guess there is hope after all!

  2. In addition to what the story tells you, the younger, smaller snakes venom is more concentrated more potemt than an older larger snake. Don’t be stupid.

      1. Actually it is true. Younger snakes are not able to control their venom – reaffirmed in my work at an Aquarium, in Rescue/Dive Master training, and Wilderness First Responder training.

  3. If the photograph of the man is that of the victim, he certainly looks like a dull blade.

    If there is a lesson to be learned here, it’s this: err on the side of caution. In some situations, it can save you a lot of heartburn. In other situations, such as this, it can save your loved ones a lot of heartache.

  4. have some respect thats my brother lames talk shit what ever keep it to yourself we dont want to hear it

  5. IN the US…the number of deaths from venemous snake bite each year is amazing small. Usually, fewer than 20 fatalities. ( bees kill far more) In India….Burma, they may see as many as 30,000 to 50,000 deaths each year from common kraits, cobras, and Russell’s vipers….to name a few. Still…..be cautious, esp. in places like the dry parts of Calif…(near Mojave desert…or even Fla., Az, NM, Texas)

  6. He probably worked for a living and paid so much in taxes to insure the low life liberal welfare bums he couldn’t afford insurance for himself.

  7. My buddy got bit by a cottonmouth and the pain was so badd he didn’t have a choice but to go to the hospital, I got him there in 15 minute he was in there for 3 days with a medical bill close to 100k but he’s still alive

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