Copperhead snake bite sends Marietta man to hospital ahead of Fourth of July holiday

A metro Atlanta man is urging caution after he was bitten by a venomous snake while preparing for a Fourth of July party in Marietta last week.  

It was the evening of July 3 when Rafael Freitas went to get pool cleaning supplies out of a shed. Suddenly, things went wrong.  

"Before you know it, I felt my foot was on fire, and I looked down, and there were two bite marks with blood coming out of them, and I look to my left, and I see the snake coiled up hissing back at me," Freitas explained.  

Copperhead snakes bites Marietta man

He said it was a three-and-a-half to four-foot copperhead snake that bit him.  

"It was the worst pain I have ever felt," he added.  

They rushed to Wellstar North Fulton Medical Center where Freitas spent three days in intensive care. It took four vials of antivenom to bring the swelling down.  

"It's one of those things you don't think will happen to you until it does," Freitas said.  

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Rafael Freitas was preparing for a Fourth of July holiday party at a Marietta home when he was bitten by a copperhead snake.  (FOX 5)

Georgia Poison Center on snake bites

The Georgia Poison Center usually gets around 500 reports of snake bites across the state each year, most from copperheads. But this year, Executive Director Gaylord Lopez said they expect to surpass that number.  

"Already we're talking about almost half of that right now as we speak, and we still have a long ways to go. In fact, our season might go until October or so just because the temperatures are moderate," Lopez explained.  

Those who are bitten, Lopez said, should not use ice, medication, or try to suck the venom out. He said the best thing to do is get to a hospital right away. 

"For whatever reason this season, we're seeing more patients requiring the antidote. So, it's important to be able to get to a hospital. The venom works quickly," Lopez said.  

Frietas said he never saw the snake before it bit him, and he's glad they acted fast.  

"This could have been way more serious. It could have been fatal but thank God we acted quick," Freitas explained.  

Lopez said they have only seen one death from a snake bite in Georgia in the last five years. He says you can call their helpline at 1-800-222-1222 if you think you've been bitten.  

Friends have also set up a GoFundMe account to help Freitas with medical expenses as he recovers.