Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Dr. Myron L. McEachern

Everyone knew to call Dr. McEachern when a snake bit

TAMPA — They called him the Snake Doctor.

"If you had a patient who had been bitten by a snake, there was no question that he was the person to call," said family practitioner David Lubin of Tampa.

In his career, Dr. Myron McEachern treated hundreds of snakebite victims, often for little pay. He also made house calls, drove a Mercury Cougar until it wore out and charged ridiculously low prices.

Dr. McEachern continued to make house calls into his 80s. In 2005, he moved to Alabama to an assisted living facility. He died Friday at age 92.

"He did what physicians are supposed to do — care for people," said Rose Ferlita, a Hillsborough County commissioner and former pharmacist, who often referred customers to Dr. McEachern.

Dr. McEachern spent his early years in Georgia. When he was 8, his father died in a car crash. He missed a year of school, the result of laissez-faire parenting by an uncle.

Another uncle, Dr. James McEachern of Tampa, took him in the following year. Myron entered the third grade in Gorrie Elementary School far behind other students. But by the end of the year he had surpassed them.

At Emory University, he leaped ahead of classmates, entering medical school two years early. He started his practice in downtown Tampa in 1943.

A turning point came in the 1940s at St. Joseph's Hospital.

A young man had been bitten by a rattlesnake. Dr. McEachern had given the recommended small dose of antivenin. Conventional medicine said too much would kill the patient.

Seeing that the situation was dire, Dr. McEachern tried a different strategy. He loaded the man with vial after vial of antivenin — nearly 30 times as much as the protocols recommended.

"Considering what had been done in the past, it was a massive dose," said his daughter, Dixie McEachern Bergquist, who holds a nursing degree.

The man recovered.

Dr. McEachern became the physician of choice in the area to handle snakebite injuries, often to impecunious patients who left gifts of flowers or food. One man even paid his bill with fish eggs.

"It's a funny thing," he told a reporter in 1988. "Snakes never bite people with money."

In the early 1950s, he built a yellow brick office on South Boulevard with a fireplace in the waiting room. Among the conversation pieces was a jar of formaldehyde, containing a snake that had bitten one of his patients.

When a diabetic man of modest means entered her pharmacy with a badly infected leg, an alarmed Ferlita sent the man to Dr. McEachern, with cash.

A week later, she received a note from Dr. McEachern.

"Rose, we took care of him," the note read. "It was a pleasure."

Enclosed was her money.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (813) 661-2431 or


Dr. Myron L. McEachern

Born: Jan. 6, 1916.

Died: Oct. 17, 2008.

Survivors: daughters Melinda McEachern Mathews and Dixie McEachern Bergquist; seven grandchildren; one great-grandson; numerous nieces and nephews.

Everyone knew to call Dr. McEachern when a snake bit 10/23/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008 2:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations


    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.


    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Boy Scouts apologize over Trump's remarks at jamboree


    Facing an angry backlash from parents and former members, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America apologized on Thursday for political remarks made by President Donald Trump at the organization's national jamboree this week, during which the commander-in-chief crowed over his election victory, attacked the news …

    President DonaldTrump, front left, gestures as former boys scouts, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, watch at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean, W.Va. Boy Scouts president Randall Stephenson told the Associated Press on Wednesday, July 26, in his first public comments on the furor over President Donald Trump's speech on Monday that he'd be "disingenuous" if he suggested he was surprised by the Republican president's comments. [Associated Press]
  3. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports


    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  4. Hit-run driver who refused to leave van threatened to shoot, Hillsborough deputies say

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Eddie Carly Colon Soto peeked his head out the broken side window of his van as a SWAT team closed in.

    The driver of this van tried to flee the scene of a crash in north Tampa Thursday morning until he could travel no farther, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Then he refused to leave the van and threatened sheriff's deputies, they said. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  5. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox


    They narrowly missed the playoffs by thismuch.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]