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The Making of Medicine

Deadly Snakebite: What the World Should Know

You hear a lot about shark attacks, but sharks kill only about six people per year in unprovoked attacks. Meanwhile, someone dies from snakebite every four minutes. Up to 5.4 million people are bitten by snakes each year.

To combat this huge and largely unrecognized problem, a coalition of global health and tropical medicine organizations proclaimed Sept. 19 International Snakebite Awareness Day. To mark the day, and spread word about snakebite, my colleague Megan Rowe and I hosted a Facebook Live session with UVA’s Jay Fox, PhD, who is president of one of the day’s sponsoring organizations, the International Society on Toxinology. We were joined by Dr. Nathan Charlton, MD, of the Blue Ridge Poison Center. Our guests shared a lot of great information about snakes, snakebite and how to protect yourself. They also debunk some myths you may well believe. (For example, it’s a myth that you should try to suck the poison out of a snakebite.) Check it out!

The most important thing you can do if bitten by a venomous snake? Try to keep the bite site immobile and seek medical help immediately. Want more info? Visit Minutes to Die.

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