Snakebites Kill 20,000 People a Year

Rattlesnakes and two other snake species revealed their ability to drastically lower their metabolic rates, a trait that hadn't been documented in vertebrates. (Image credit: James Van Dyke)

From the LiveScience Water Cooler.

More than 400,000 people are poisoned by snakebites every year, based on a review of reports from around the world, Reuters reports. The death toll could be as high as 94,000, however, since the bites aren't always reported.

Snake venom is a complex thing. Scientists recently found that it varies more than expected by location and the age of the snake. So antivenoms, the drugs created to combat snake bites in humans, may not always work as expected. A study in 2006 found human immune cells responsible for runny noses and itchy eyes could help protect us against the venom of certain snakes.

Our best defense is our seemingly innate fear of snakes. Humans have evolved to fear them, studies show.

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Live Science Staff
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