6 countries with the most snake bites in the world

Either you live in a country where there are poisonous snakes, or you are planning to visit one of them, you will find very useful and important facts as well as data about the 6 countries with the most snake bites in the world. While the whole world is observing the coronavirus pandemic with increasing concerns, there is a dark shadow of a new and worrying pandemic above our heads. Its name is snake bite.

Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, there are very few data related to snake bites. The reason is that where envenomings are common, there are no exact data available, due to lack of the necessary telecommunication and technological infrastructure. We can find exact databases only in a few developed countries where snake bites are not very common. Generally, the estimated number of snake-bitten people is around 5.4 million per year, and 2.7 million of them were envenomings. According to estimates between 81 000 to 138 000 people die annually after being bitten by snakes. In India for instance around one million people have died of envenomings in the past twenty years. In other words, in 2018 more people died of snake bites across the world, than in wars. What’s more, somebody dies of being bitten by a venomous snake in every five minutes, globally, and another four will have permanent disability. However scientists work continously to find new methods to produce anti-venom and to cure snake bites, people in Africa and Asia are still within an ace of death day by day. Generally peasants are in the highest risk in these countries, while farming their lands, they just simply step on a snake.

Snakes bites cause more problems than we first would think, since victims in poor countries, such as Nigeria, first try home remedies, such as putting the injuried limb in a hole and burying it with soil. If it is no use (and naturally it isn’t), the relatives then try to take the patient to a hospital that is usually at least a hundred mile from their home. Another home treatment is when the victim is told to eat a raw egg, and a half frog is put on the wound to prevent the venom from spreading in the bloodstream. In these poverty-stricken countries, only 8% of victims get to hospital, say, around 90% are unknown, which leads to their sure deaths. The problem is that in these countries, where antivenom is in the highest demand, don’t have enough resources. In practice it means that patients have to buy the antivenom kit for themselves for $100, however these people try to survive on $2 a day. Still, antivenom is the only therapy for envenoming and it has to be used as soon as possible. Another key fact is: not only African and Asian countries lack of antivenom, but we can observe there’s a worldwide shortage of it, as only half of the antivenom needed is available across the globe. The reason is simple: most of the snakebite victims abide in poverty-stricken countries where there’s not a solvent demand for it. Subsequently, antivenom producing companies have decreased their output recently.

Why is a snake bite so dangerous and fatal? As we can see in a WHO report, its venom can cause paralysis, consequently the victim can’t breathe, and it brings bleeding disorders why people die of haemorrhage or irreversible kidney insufficiency. In many other cases it leads to lose limbs due to a necessary and life-saver amputation. Furthermore, snake venom contains various enzymes, toxins and proteins, which destroy cells in the victims’s body.

If you want to know more about the 20 most deadliest snakes in the world, you can check it out on Insider Monkey’s website. Naturally, not all the snakes are venomous, as you can read in Insider Monkey’s earlier article on 10 most common non-poisonous snake species in the world. The US is not exception either, as this is the third largest country in the world by size, with a wide range of natural diversity. Therefore if you are planning to travel across the US, you should be aware of which are the states with most snake bites in America. In the list of the states with the most venomous snakes in America you will see that poisonous snakes are native to almost every state except Alaska, Maine and Hawaii.

In order to make the compilation of countries with the most snake bites in the world, we have consulted a comprehensive report, The Global Burden of Snakebite, where we found there are 58 countries of the 227 where snake bites do not befall. There are another 92 countries where there are no data, so we could find only estimated numbers concerning to envenomings. On further investigation in this study showed us that WHO lately declared snakebites an epidemic and made efforts to help victims urgently. The target is to halve the numbers of deaths and disability by snakebites by 2030.

And now, without a further ado, let’s have a look at the list of the 6 countries with the most snake bites in the world.

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6. Nepal

Number of snake bites per year: 20,000

According to National Guidelines for Snakebite Management in Nepalenvenoming is a severe medical emergency, which concers farmers, children and women, mainly living in poverty-stricken regions in Nepal. Around 20,000 snake bites occur here annually, and 1,000 people die of envenoming. In Nepal there are two snake families, the Elapidae and  Viperidae. The former family contains Cobras (such as Common Cobra and Monocled Cobra) and Kraits (such as Banded Krait, and Himalayan Krait), while the latter one consists of Pit Vipers (such as Tibetan Viper and Mountain Viper).

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5. Mexico

Number of snake bites per year: 27 000

In Mexico venomous snakes belong to four families: vipers (Viperidae), coral snakes (Elapidae), sea snakes, (Hidrophidae) and Colubrids (Colubridae) ranking by less medical importance. There are 27,000 snakebites in Mexico annually, but according to Snakebite in the Americas, there are no data available for mortality rate.

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4. Brazil

Number of snake bites per year: 30,000

In South America, Brazil has the largest number of snakebite incidencts, causing around 1,400 deaths per year. In Brazil, five snake groups are mainly responsible for envenomings,  such as vipers (Viperidae),coral snakes (Elapidae), and Cobras (Elapidae).

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3. Vietnam

Number of snake bites per year: 30,000

We are half way through our list of the 6 countries with the most snake bites in the world, and Vietnam is on the third spot. In Vietnam we can find poisonous snakes belong to Elapidae family, such as Cobras. As we could see in many other cases, there are no data available regarding to mortality rate caused by snake bites. Most of the Vietnemese population live in the countryside without the necessary medical opportunities and antivenom treatment, which indicates when it comes to snake bites, Vietnam has to face with more severe issues than many other Southeast Asian countries.

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2. Sri Lanka

Number of snake bites per year: 33,000

And now we are here with a jaw-dropping number from Sri Lanka: there are 33,000 cases annually. However, this number shows only those cases that ended up in hospitals. The real number of cases is absolutely unknown. Mortality rate is 50% of this number mentioned above. It means around 15,000 people die of envenoming in hospitals annually. Furthermore, the mortality rate outside hospitals can just be estimated. Most common poisonous snakes in Sri Lanka are Russell’s Viper (Viperidae), Cobras (Elapidae) and Kraits (Elapidae).

Pixabay/Public domain

1. India

Number of snake bites per year: 81,000

Without a shadow of a doubt, India tops the list of the 6 countries with the most snake bites in the world. As we mentioned above, even at the lowest estimate one million people have died by snake bites in India in the last two decades. Around 81,000 people are bitten by snakes annually, and 58,000 of them die. The most venomous snakes here are Indian Cobra (Elapidae), Indian Krait, Russell’s Viper (Viperidae) and Saw Scaled Viper (Viperidae) – in other words, the highly dangerous ‘Big Four‘.

Pixabay/Public domain

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