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More People Reporting Bites By Increasingly Toxic Snakes

By Petslady @petslady

More People Reporting Bites By Increasingly Toxic Snakes

Here's some news that'll rattle you: as North America warms up and snakes become more active, reports of snake bites are up... and so is the toxicity of their venom. “This is the time of year when we see a rise in snake bites,” confirms Richard Clark, M.D., director of the Division of Medical Toxicology at the UC San Diego Health System.

More People Reporting Bites By Increasingly Toxic Snakes
Well fangs a lot, doc, though one must take the scary stats with a grain of salt. Not everyone bitten by a snake reports the incident and seeks medical attention but that ratio of those reporting bites will change if the bites themselves are on average more serious. That's exactly what appears to be happening and the phenomenon isn't new: reports of a rise in severe reactions to snake bites have been noted by UC San Diego Medical Center toxicologists since 2007.
Clark (left) was quoted in June of 2008 stating patients treated at the UC San Diego Medical Center were reporting “unusually powerful snake bites and unusually extreme patient reactions to those bites” for the second straight year. “Our victims are showing symptoms of severe weakness, trouble breathing and low blood pressure this year.”
More People Reporting Bites By Increasingly Toxic Snakes
Clark can only guess why snakes have become more venomous, admitting “We really don't know why the venom is becoming increasingly potent.”

He has a theory, however, that makes sense when one considers the pressures humans are putting on snake populations. “Some speculate that with the modern world encroaching on nature it could be survival of the fittest. Perhaps only the strongest, most venomous snakes survive.”
Perhaps in time, humans will evolve a response to the rise in snake venom potency but increased resistance to the venom would require that those more sensitive to its effects not survive the experience of being bitten. Better to be wise when traveling in snake country and not tempt fate... or Darwin. (via Science Daily, UC Health, UC San Diego News Center, and the Santa Barbara Independent)

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