PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Rattlesnakes are more likely to be spotted in Pennsylvania between April and October.

Annually, between 7,000 and 8,000 people are bitten by rattlesnakes, with an average of five deaths.

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Over the weekend, 39-year-old Russell Davis of Freedom became one of those rare deaths. Davis was on a camping weekend in Elk County with his girlfriend.

She didn’t see what happened, but told KDKA-TV he knew right away he needed to get to the hospital.

Ray Bamrick, of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, says a bite can start as localized bleeding and swelling.

The initial plan was to take Davis to an Elk County hospital where he could get anti-venom medication and then take him to a Pittsburgh hospital.

Bamrick said if the meds are given within two hours, there is usually a very good outcome.

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But the Armstrong County Coroner reported that Davis was already in respiratory distress when he reached the local hospital to be airlifted to Pittsburgh.

He went into cardiac arrest in the helicopter. The official cause of death is listed as anaphylactic reaction to a venomous snake bite.

Most hospitals are equipped with the anti-venomous meds that are specifically for rattlesnakes commonly found in Pennsylvania.

Bamrick cautions, “The most important thing for the victim is to remain calm. Lie down, with the wound or extremities below the level of the heart. Remove tight clothing if constricting and then get calmly to the emergency room.”

The coroner reports no autopsy will be done on Davis.

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Lynne Hayes-Freeland