Jun. 23—GAINESVILLE, Fla. — During the weekend, 5-year-old Maisy Lamica was fighting for her life in a hospital bed. Wednesday, she was up and walking around in a corridor.
"If you ever wondered if God hears prayers ... here is your answer," her mother, Cyndi Spell, said in a Facebook posting.
A video clip tagged to the posting showed Maisy walking down a corridor by herself, tethered by an IV line to a portable pump.
Maisy, a Brooks County child, was bitten several times by a rattlesnake Friday during a visit to Berrien County. The girl was rushed to South Georgia Medical Center, which does not have a pediatric intensive care unit; from SGMC, she was airlifted to Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville, Fla.
After expert care and dozens of vials of antivenin, Maisy was moved Tuesday from pediatric ICU to a regular hospital room. She was in good condition Wednesday, said Ken Garcia, spokesman for UF Health, which runs the hospital.
A GoFundMe account for Maisy, at https://gofund.me/d5a19293, had gathered more than $10,000 in donations by Wednesday afternoon, more than halfway to its $20,000 goal.
A snake expert said the circumstances surrounding Maisy's bite sound like "a freak accident."
Maisy had gotten out of a car at her father's house and run over to the family cat by a tree, Spell said; no one realized the cat had cornered a timber rattlesnake until it was too late. The snake lunged at the child and bit her several times.
Vanessa Lane, associate professor of wildlife ecology and management at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, said it sounds as if Maisy scared the snake.
"People think of snakes as aggressive," she said, "but they are pretty much scared of humans. They are, though, very good at defending themselves."
She said most snake bites occur when a snake is either frightened or irritated by someone harassing it.
Lane's advice for people who find themselves near a rattlesnake is to stay calm and back away slowly.
Homeowners should keep their yards clear of debris and brush piles, she said.
"When it comes to children and pets, about all you can do is keep an eye on them," Lane said.
If someone is bitten by a rattlesnake, the best thing to do is remove any constricting clothes, which lets the venom circulate freely around the entire body and thus dilute, then get them to a hospital, she said.
In Lowndes County, the county's animal control office generally does not respond to calls about outdoor snakes since that falls under the heading of "wildlife," which county ordinances don't deal with, Lowndes County Manager Paige Dukes said.
Animal control has dealt with snakes under special circumstances, such as in 2018 when a scare about ball pythons escaping from a Wood Valley subdivision home caused other government agencies to ask the county for help, Dukes said.
Both Dukes and Lane said people should remember that snakes are part of the landscape in South Georgia.
"If you're outdoors, you're in (the snakes') environment," Dukes said.
Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.