On the Incidence of Poisonous Snakebites in Florida: Analysis of 241 Cases Occurring During 1954 and 1955

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  • Division of Epidemiology, Bureau of Preventable Disease, Florida State Board of Health, Jacksonville, Florida


A questionnaire was sent to the practicing physicians and hospitals in Florida requesting them to report all the poisonous snakebites they treated during the calendar years 1954 and 1955. They reported 106 bites treated during 1954 and 135 during 1955—an average of 120 bites per year. There were three deaths from snake venom poisoning during 1954 and three during 1955. There was an average fatality rate of 2.5 per cent for this group of treated snakebites.

Snakebites occurred more frequently during the spring and summer months. Rattlesnakes were responsible for about 50 per cent of the 241 bites. More than 90 per cent of the bites were inflicted on the extremities. Forty-nine per cent of the bites occurred in young people less than 20 years of age.

It was estimated that 41 per cent of these patients had minimal venenation, 39 per cent had moderate venenation, and 20 per cent had severe venenation. Apparently the patients with severe venenation did not receive the recommended amount of antivenin.