For the average encounter with a snake, the threat of a bite might be a painful experience, but not a deadly one. There are about 3,000 different species of snakes that are known in the world today. Out of that number, about 200 of them are considered to be medically dangerous because of their venom. In the developed world, snake bites are rarely even considered an emergency. In developing nations, however, a snake bite may need emergency care.
Facts About Snake Bite Deaths
1. There is an estimated 20,000 snake bite deaths that happen in the world every year according to provided data from medical centers.
2. Under-reporting of snake bite incidents in sub-Saharan African and in rural Asia may push the estimated annual snake bit deaths to be as high as 100,000 per year.
3. The number of snake bite deaths that occur in the United States every year on average: 5.
4. Australia has the highest per capita population of venomous snakes, yet only sees 2-4 deaths per year because of snake bites.
5. About 8,000 people in the US are bitten by snakes every year. There is a 1 in 500 chance of a fatality after the snake bite occurs.
6. People in rural areas are much more likely to be bitten by a snake than those in urban areas.
7. On the Indian subcontinent, about 11,000 deaths are known to occur every year, accounting for 50% of the total snake bite fatality totals annually.
8. When all snake bites are considered, about 400k people are poisoned by snake venom through bites every year. When under-reporting is considered, that figure may be as high as 5 million.
9. Snake bites by venomous species do not always cause symptoms, and only 50-70% of bites by a venomous species will actually cause envenoming.
10. Rattlesnakes are the most venomous species in the US and they can strike at up to a third of their body length.
11. Only 1 in 50 million people will die from a snake bite.
12. You are 9x more likely to die from being struck by lightning than to die from a venomous snake bite.
13. More people die from spider bites in the United States each year than they do from snake bites.
14. The most toxic venom of U.S. species belongs to the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, but from a global perspective it’s only ranked the 23rd most dangerous.
15. The snake that causes the most deaths of humans every year is the saw-scaled viper, although having access to proper medical care would likely change that statistic.
16. Estimates show that 20-25% of all pit viper bites and 50% of Coral Snake bites are dry bites.
17. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene said in India 46,000 people are dying every year from snakebites against the official figure of only 2,000.
18. In India, 80% of deaths due to snake bites in villages surveyed occurred outside a medical center and that 50% of those victims died on the way to the health facility.
19. An estimated 300,000 people are left with a permanent impairment because of a snake bite every year.
20. Figures from Bangladesh show 700,000 recorded snake bites on average every year.
21. India is home to 13 snake varieties that are highly poisonous of which five make up the deadly list of the common snakes biting humans.
22. Nigeria has the highest per capita death rate due to snake bites at a rate of 14 per 100,000 incidents, even though their total snake bite figures are at least 50% less than India’s every year.
23. Most venomous snakes are going to flee instead of attach. Most only strike defensively or when threatened. Because the saw scaled viper is nocturnal and buries itself in the sand, it is easy to step on one and be bit because of it.
24. Up to 1 million people may be bitten by snakes in India alone every year.
25. The king cobra, which can grow to 18 feet long, has a bite containing enough venom to kill 20-30 people.
26. Research indicates that snakes may be evolving to produce bites that are more venomous.
27. Researchers in North America have also found that California ground squirrels and rock squirrels have blood that has evolved to neutralize the specific toxins found in the venom of some rattlesnakes.
28. For every person who dies from a snake bite, there will be two people who will die from AIDS.
29. People who are unfamiliar with the habits of snakes and are in the 65+ age demographic have a higher risk of dying from a snake bite than any other demographic.
Unlike what may have been seen in a movie, the best response to a snake bite is to contact emergency services immediately if a venomous bite is suspected. Don’t try to suck out the poison as this may expose others to the venom or other bloodborne illnesses. Get to a safe position, identify the snake if possible, and seek medical help. Taking a few moments to review these facts and statistics about snake bites can also provide some critical data that could be useful in the unlikely event that a venomous bite occurs.
What To Do If a Snake Bites
Identify the snake immediately, but do not attempt to capture it. If this is not possible, remember the description of the snake as best as possible to relay to doctors so the correct anti-venom can be administered. Immobilize the part of the body that was bitten to prevent the venom from spreading to quickly. This will prevent envenoming, or a poisoning of the body, from occurring. Despite the swelling, do not attempt to put ice on the wound. Don’t drink caffeine either as this will speed up the metabolism of the venom.
It is important to know the signs and symptoms that are associated with a venomous snake bite. Outside of a pair of puncture marks, redness, and swelling, labored breathing and blurred vision are common symptoms of a venomous bite. Heavy sweaty and increased saliva production may also be present. For many people, it takes about 15 minutes for the venom to kick in if there wasn’t a dry bite. With fast anti-venom treatments, a recovery can generally be achieved in 2-3 days.
When the body is poisoned by the venom, the results can be a severe disability, chronic pain, and other permanent physical impairments if it does not cause death. The #1 reason why snake bites are so deadly still today is because many areas lack appropriate medical care. This is why emphasizing the placement of rural clinics in high risk areas is so important. There could be 100,000 lives at stake. Each one is important.