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Posted by W von Papinešu on December 22, 2002 at 10:17:54:
OMAHA WORLD HERALD (Nebraska) 20 December 02 Zoo worker in hospital with gila monster bite (Kamahria Hopkins)
It might have been hungry, a little ticked off or just playful.
But whatever a gila monster at the Henry Doorly Zoo was feeling Friday morning, it inflicted a great deal of pain on herpetologist Eric Viera when it bit down onto his right hand.
Viera, who experienced pain, fuzzy vision and nausea, was in serious condition Friday morning at Creighton University Medical Center, a spokesman said.
Viera, a reptile expert, was holding the poisonous lizard with his thumb and index finger while other zoo employees tried to X-ray it, said Dr. Lee Simmons, zoo director.
There is no anti-venom for gila monster bites, Simmons said. Victims, who rarely die from the bites, are treated for pain and other symptoms.
Simmons said he suspects Viera relaxed his grip and the lizard, only one of two venomous species of lizards, clamped down on the web area between Viera's thumb and index finger.
"This is a case of (Viera) being more concerned about the animal's welfare than his own," Simmons said.
Gila monsters don't inject their venom, but chew it into those they come in contact with.
Simmons said gila monster bites are extremely painful, and the lizard had to be pried off.
"This is the first poisonous animal bite that we've had in the 36 years I've been here," Simmons said.