POWELL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) -
Extracting venom is a daily activity for Jim Harrison, the Director of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo,"I average about 600 to 1,000 extractions a week. Everything from Rattlesnakes to Mambas."
The venom collected at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo is used by researchers to develop treatments and cures for diseases.
While it is a risky responsibility, he blames himself for his most recent bite from a 4 foot Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.
"It's been a little while since I made a mistake and I made a big one. I have an injured hip and I didn't take that into account. I stepped forward and I fell forward. I introduced by hand to close to it's head and it just barely got my finger," says Harrison.
Moments after the bite, Harrison's wife, Kristen Wiley rushed him to Clark Regional Hospital with an anti-venom called, Biclon. Harrison says the anti-serum is currently not regulated by the FDA. It's only allowed in Mexico. He has an investigational drug license which allows him to use it.
Harrison says he was given the Biclon at the hospital,"It works better if not better than Cro-fab the approved drug that is here in the United States."
After the anti-venom was in Harrison's system, he was flown to UK hospital.
"It is remarkable how quickly, I mean that's what, maybe 45 minutes between when I left him at one hospital and saw him next. The turn around was quite significant in that period of time," says Kristen Wiley, Harrison's wife. Wiley is also the curator at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo.
Harrison says the following morning, he headed home to recover.
"I would prefer to use it for anything else," says Harrison.
Nine days after the rattlesnake bite, Harrison was back to extracting venom.
Harrison and Wiley believe the Bioclon should be approved in the U.S. They believe it's better to have more anti-venom options than just one.