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Wilderness Environ Med. 2016 Jun;27(2):219-26. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2016.01.004. Epub 2016 May 5.

An Analysis of Media-Reported Venomous Snakebites in the United States, 2011-2013.

Author information

1
Department of Mathematics and Science, Hillyer College, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT.
2
Department of Mathematics and Science, Hillyer College, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT. Electronic address: wasko@hartford.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Venomous snakebite is a widespread natural hazard in the United States. A common perception exists that the majority of these snakebites are "illegitimate," resulting from deliberate interaction with snakes (such as attempting to move or kill the animal), but there is little quantitative information available regarding the conditions under which bites occur.

METHODS:

To better understand the circumstances under which victims are bitten, we compiled a dataset of media-reported snakebites in the United States between 2011 and 2013. A total of 332 reported snakebites were recorded. Of these, 307 were from snakes encountered under natural circumstances and 25 were under captive-care conditions.

RESULTS:

Most reported victims were adult males. Although some bites occurred during intentional handling of snakes and such activity may relate to bite severity, the majority of victims reported being unaware of the snake before they were bitten. Accidentally stepping on or placing the hands near an unseen snake were the activities most frequently associated with bites under natural conditions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although bias in snakebite reporting patterns by the media is likely, across the United States "legitimate" bites from unseen snakes appear to be the norm.

KEYWORDS:

cottonmouth; envenomation; mass media; rattlesnake; snakebite; snakes

PMID:
27161436
DOI:
10.1016/j.wem.2016.01.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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