The king cobra is the most feared snake in Asia. (iStock)

UN seeks 50% reduction in snakebite deaths and disabilities


The World Health Organization (WHO) has rolled out a strategy to halve the number of fatalities and cases of disability caused by snakebites over the next 12 years. Up to 2.7 million people are bitten by potentially poisonous snakes annually and as many as 138,000 die.

A main objective is to ensure safe, effective and affordable treatment for bites. WHO also seeks to improve and strengthen production, supply and distribution of  life-saving antivenoms and other commodities to treat snakebites.

Canada has very few Massasauga rattlesnakes, very little risk of a bite and almost no risk of death from one. (iStock)

Canadians needn’t worry

Canada has almost no risk of venomous snake bites. according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Very few rattlesnakes are thinly distributed in the southernmost part of the country. Only two fatal cases have been recorded in the last 50 years. Researchers at the University of Kansas theorize the risk will increase with climate change.

The WHO calls the effects of snakebites “a neglected tropical disease” and it is prevalent in many parts of the world.

The black mamba is one of the fastest and most deadly snakes in the world. (iStock)

Black mambas  are aggressive and fast

The most deadly snake is said to be the black mamba which lives in the savannas and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa. It is fast, nervous, aggressive and lethally venomous. Even when antivenom is used, half the victims die.

Russel’s viper may kill the most people on the planet. It is common in south-east Asia and is often mistaken for the non-venomous python. It is extremely aggressive and nervous.

Next is the highly toxic and aggressive Australian brown snake. Like the Russel’s viper, it tends to live in the same places as humans do and so there is a higher number of interactions.

The lethal fer-de-lance lives in the tropical forests of Central and South America. (iStock)

South and Central American snake kills many

These are followed by the fer-de-lance found in the tropical forests of Central and South America and the cobra which is the most feared snake of Asia. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake of North America comes next, followed by the puff adder and the common adder. There are also several species of dangerous water snakes that are a menace to fishermen.

The rankings may be different depending on the criteria one uses to measure how dangerous the snakes are to humans.

Canadians sometimes complain about living in what is, for much of the year, a cold country. But it does have its advantages.

Snowy weather can be annoying but it is also inhospitable to venomous snakes. (iStock)

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