'I felt every kind of pain you can imagine' Copperhead bites Charlotte rugby player

Katryna Ritter's swollen foot after her snake bite on Mother's Day. She was in the emergency room until early the next morning. (Katryna Ritter | Photo provided to Charlotte Observer)
Katryna Ritter's swollen foot after her snake bite on Mother's Day. She was in the emergency room until early the next morning. (Katryna Ritter | Photo provided to Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Charlotte's first publicized copperhead bite of the season happened last week in the University City area, and it involved a newlywed who is on the Charlotte Women's Rugby Club.

Katryna Ritter, a five-year member of the rugby club, says she was bitten in her mother's yard on Mother's Day and the bite was bad enough to require anti-venom.

The snake attacked her at 9:15 p.m., when it was dark, so Ritter says she never saw the culprit snake in the grass. However, doctors said she had all the symptoms of a copperhead bite, she says.

"I was loading my dogs into the truck and I stepped back and felt something like a bee sting," said Ritter, who was married eight months ago.

"Within 5 minutes, I felt every kind of pain you can imagine, all at once. Aching, stinging, throbbing, burning. It was excruciating."

Her mother rushed her to a hospital in the University City area and doctors administered anti-venom at 3:30 a.m., on May 14, she says.

"I was bitten on the foot, which is a good place to be bitten, because it's the farthest away from your heart. But my foot swelled up like a balloon," Ritter says.

It has been nine days and Ritter says she's still treating the pain. Elevating her leg has been the only relief, she says. However, once she puts her foot down, the swelling and pain returns, she says.

"I discovered there's not a lot out there on recovery from a snake bite, other than ibuprofen and elevating it. I have been reading everything I can get on it," she says. "Even in the emergency room, doctors have to rely on calling Poison Center to get the information they need."

The Carolinas Poison Center, based in Charlotte, says the copperhead is the most common venomous snake in North Carolina. The center receives 10 times the number of calls about copperhead bites as all other snakes combined, says the center.

So far this year, the center has handled 87 snake bite calls from across the state, officials said in an email to the Charlotte Observer.

Ritter has been anxious about her recovery, because the Charlotte Women's Rugby Club has earned a place in the 2018 USA Rugby Club 15s National Championships, June 2-3 in Glendale, Colorado.

Ritter, who plays inside enter on the team, is convinced she will play in the championships.