Venom expert joins ECU - WNCN: News, Weather

Venom expert joins ECU

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

If you're scared of snakes, you're not alone. They're one of the deadliest animals in the world, killing more than 100,000 people a year.

But you can rest a little easier knowing an internationally-recognized venom expert now calls Eastern North Carolina home.

It's all about poison and patients for Dr. Sean Bush.

If you've ever watched the show "Venom ER" you probably already know Bush. He's been featured on Animal Planet, The Discovery Channel and PBS. Now he's bringing his expertise to ECU's Brody School of Medicine.

It's not quite the California landscape that Dr. Bush is used to, but that's okay with him.

"I came to North Carolina in search of copperheads and greener pastures and I've already found both," Bush said.

He's been researching and treating venomous snake bites for decades.

"I'm just interested in snakes. I mean, a lot of people are. Whether they're fearful of them or fascinated by them, a lot of folks are very interested in snakes," Bush said.

Bush has saved the lives of hundreds of potentially deadly rattlesnake-bite patients, including his own son. But now he's taking on a new challenge: the copperhead. It's the most common of six species of venomous snakes in North Carolina.

"The fangs are in the back, on the roof of the mouth, and when they come out to strike the fangs come out and it's a very efficient venom-delivery device," Bush said.

The snake is found in rural and suburban areas in all 100 counties.

"North Carolina leads the nation in number of snake bites, especially by this snake, the copperhead. They're not as deadly as a rattlesnake, but bad enough to get you in the hospital," he said.

This time of year, it's not uncommon to come across a snake in Eastern North Carolina. If you want to try to avoid a trip to the emergency room, Dr. Bush says don't try to pick a snake up or kill it. Simply leave it alone and stay away.

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