You probably don’t often encounter [rattlesnake sound]. But snakebites are still a big concern for much of the world’s population.
The World Health Organization estimates that about 100,000 people die from poisonous snakebites each year. Many more people become paralyzed or permanently disabled. And in poor, rural areas of Asia, Africa and South America, most deaths from snakebites go unreported.
Most victims live too far from clinics that could provide them with antivenom. In Nepal, where more than 10 percent of bite victims die, an experimental program uses volunteer motorcyclists to save residents. Since the program launched 2003, only about 0.5 percent of victims who got a ride died. These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Researchers are also hard at work developing better tests to detect whether victims have been bitten by a poisonous snake—and in some cases, even detect the species. Also on the horizon are antivenoms that can neutralize toxins from more than one type of snake.