• By Michael Clayton

Mayo Clinic Minute: Rattlesnakes, scorpions and other desert dangers

June 18, 2018

For those living in the Southwest or those visiting the Southwest for the first time, it's important to be aware of the dangers of the desert. Rattlesnakes and scorpions are common desert companions. And, according to Dr. Steven Maher, a Mayo Clinic emergency medicine physician, you should be aware of your surroundings and bring plenty of water if you go hiking.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:00) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Visiting the desert southwest can be a beautiful and wonderful experience. But some dangers may be lurking.

The western diamondback rattlesnake is one of the creatures visitors should be on the lookout for.

“The most important thing to do is to avoid the rattlesnake,” says Dr. Maher.

“The most important thing is what not to do. You don’t want to try and suck out the venom, or try and cut. The best thing to do is try and immobilize the area, and seek medical treatment right away.”

A creature to look out for is the scorpion. Each person reacts differently to the sting, and symptoms can vary from severe pain to blurred vision.

“If you’re concerned at all, talk to your local poison center. And if symptoms are severe, get help right away.”

But the greatest danger is not an animal or bugs, but lack of water. Stay hydrated. Dr. Maher suggests hiking early in the morning and bringing plenty of water when exploring.

“If you're going to be outside, it’s very important to bring water with you and a lot of it.”

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