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Fatal Snakebites ‘Vastly Underreported,’ Researchers Report At Annual ASTMH Meeting

“Fatal snakebites worldwide have been vastly underreported because many die before seeking or reaching medical care, researchers” from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt, Germany, reported on Monday at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s (ASTMH) annual meeting, UPI.com writes (12/5). NPR’s “Shots” blog notes that, “even at the low end of estimates, deaths from snakebites would exceed those from better-known scourges, such as cholera, dengue fever and Chagas disease,” according to researchers at the symposium (Hensley, 12/6).

“The World Health Organization estimates that up to five million people suffer from snakebites each year, resulting in 300,000 cases of permanent disability and about 100,000 deaths,” an ASTMH press release states. However, “two recent studies reveal that the magnitude of the problem is far greater than official statistics show,” with the actual number of snakebites and related deaths in India and Bangladesh much higher than official figures and estimates, the release notes. “Snakebite victims often do not go to hospitals because they have to travel too far, anti-venom is scarce in many regions, or the treatment can be too expensive,” according to the press release (12/5).