Friday 7 June 2019

Snake mistake: CSIRO says it's a myth that Australia is home to world's deadliest species

Australian science agency says there are a ‘negligible number of human deaths’ from snake bites in Australia
Australian Associated Press
Sun 26 May 2019 03.12 BSTLast modified on Sun 26 May 2019 16.05 BST
The popular suggestion that Australia is home to the world’s deadliest snakes is largely a myth, with the risk of bites and death far greater across Asia, Africa and South America, the nation’s science agency has said.
Herpetologist Ruchira Somaweera from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said the myth was born a few decades ago and came out of a study of the relatively high toxicity levels found in Australian species, such as brown snakes.
But Somaweera said the study did not include many well-known highly dangerous snakes from other continents and, even more importantly, had little relevance to humans.
“If you look at the amount of people who actually die [in Australia] from snakes each year, it’s practically nothing, the encounter rates are so low in comparison to other parts of the world.” he said.
“Factors such as the quality of antivenom, our paramedical services and knowledge of first aid is really good here in Australia, which contributes to the negligible number of human deaths.”
By comparison, in parts of Asia, Africa and South America there are a group of snakes called vipers which are large, aggressive and common.
Worse still, encounter rates and bites are high in agricultural lands due to limited preventative knowledge such as appropriate footwear and little first aid training.

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