Del Mar woman bitten by rattlesnake while gardening

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DEL MAR, Calif. - A woman in Del Mar spent nearly a week in intensive care unit after being bitten by a rattlesnake in her backyard.

Elizabeth Schuessler was pulling out some weeds on March 4 when she stumbled on a 4-foot rattlesnake and let out a screech. Her husband came running out to find her with a snakebite and rushed her over to the hospital.

"I reached over to pull out the weed, and all of sudden I had this excruciating pain in the back of the ankle," Schuessler said. "I looked down and there was a huge snake."

"[The snake] got to a vessel and it went right into the bloodstream," Schuessler said.

Schuessler spent five days in ICU. She was unconscious, paralyzed and had difficulty breathing.  Over a week later, she says she still has a long road to recovery.

Snakes across the region are out earlier than usual. There have been an increase in snake sightings due to the warmer weather.

According to state wildlife officials, this time of year is peak season for the reptiles. Last year, they received over 1,000 calls regarding rattlesnakes. Most snake bites occur when people disturb a resting snake.

To prevent them from being around your home, remove things that attract rodents or birds, remove brush piles, and trash. If you encounter a snake at home call local animal control who can help remove them.

The top five areas in San Diego with snake sightings are Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Scripps Ranch, Rancho Penasquitos and Nestor.