Woman bitten by venomous snake at McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue delivers antivenin to Palm Beach County hospital

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. – Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Venom Unit flew by helicopter to Palm Beach County on Thursday morning after a woman was bitten in the right hand by a venomous cobra at McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary.

Employees said Aneth McCarthy, whose husband owns the sanctuary, was cleaning a snake cage when she was bitten.

Aneth was taken to Palms West Hospital, but Miami-Dade County has the nearest venom unit.

Aneth's husband, Mark McCarthy, told Local 10's Christina Vazquez that she didn't experience any symptoms immediately.

"She was starting to get symptoms about an hour after the bite," Mark McCarthy said. "The swelling, the vomiting and her eyes were starting to twitch, and she started into little convulsions and stuff."

He said she's been improving since the antivenin arrived.

"Now she's talking, her eyes are open and she's doing better, other than her hand, which is still painful," he said.

Despite the venomous bite, Aneth told her husband the snake room is still her favorite place to be.

"Out of all the animals at the sanctuary, the snake room is her favorite place to be," Mark McCarthy said.

The speckled cobra that bit Aneth is from India.

Lt. Terrance Scott Mullin of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said the neurotoxin found in the speckled cobra is similar to that of the red, yellow and black coral snakes in South Florida.

"It causes you to become paralyzed and stop breathing," Mullin said. "It affects the nerves in your face, your ability to open and close your eyes, to speak, to swallow, and eventually it paralyzes your diaphragm so you can't expand your lungs to take a deep breath."

Mark McCarthy has been bitten by a venomous snake six times himself since he started working with them in 1972. He calls it an occupational hazard and said the initial bite doesn't hurt, but just feels like a prick.

The FWC licenses the facility and said there has been one other similar incident in the past. FWC officials also said the sanctuary is a "top notch" facility that's been in operation for more than 20 years.

There are currently 170 animals that live at the sanctuary.