Snake season has begun as the creatures end their winter slumber, hide in tall weeds and have glands full of venom. A four-year-old girl from Kibbutz Sa’ad in the south was taken this week to Beersheba’s Soroka University Medical Center after being bitten by a viper.She was hospitalized in the pediatric intensive care unit for treatment.Children on the kibbutz were helping to clean the public areas for Passover.While moving junk from a gravel path, a viper suddenly appeared from behind a bush and bit the little girl on the sole of her foot. A paramedic who lives on the kibbutz treated her and took her to the hospital.A snake trapper caught the reptile and killed it.Dr. Yitzhak Lazar, a senior physician in the intensive care unit, said that her foot was very swollen, showing signs of advanced spread of the venom. The girl was treated with venom antidote against viper bites, causing her condition to improve enough for her to be transferred to pediatrics, where she is under observation.Prof. Mati Lipschitz, chairman of Soroka’s pediatrics department and a toxicologist, gave tips on how to avoid snake poisoning.The most important thing is prevention, he said. Do not raise rocks or put your hands into bushes, where snakes and dangerous insects may be hiding.Snakes prefer to escape or only to threaten people or other animals rather than to attack. If you encounter a snake, the best thing is to try to withdraw slowly and carefully.Do not throw sticks or stones at a snake or try to catch it by the neck.In the event of snakebite, calm the victim and take him immediately for medical treatment.Do not use a tourniquet on the affected limb. Never try to suck the poison out.Never cut the skin to try to remove the venom. Do not cool the place of the bite with ice or anything else.Instead, attach a stiff object to the limb to prevent movement.Bring along the dead snake or take a detailed photo of it when you go to the hospital so the doctors can decide on the proper antidote.Do not waste time trying to catch the snake, however.