Liquid Gold Rush

Seven considerations for people hoping to cash in on snake venom

I’m a doctor, specializing in Toxinology. I study the effects of venom.

Every year or so, something happens that raises public interest in venomous snakes: a scary story is circulated, or a show presents an overly-dramatic notion of venom as “liquid gold,” or an expensive hospital bill for antivenom goes viral. On these occasions I . . .

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February 28, 2016

The Venom Interviews comes to life

Follow-up to Part 2 of Thinking Outside the Quotes

Not long ago I posted a 2-part story, titled Thinking Outside the Quotes, about being the expert featured in a media article. Sharing one's work with reporters is a heady experience, for sure: the media can magnify an important message in a way that is inaccessible to a lone academician. Wide exposure for a project one has worked on for . . .

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February 18, 2016

Old men, women, and snakes

A father-daughter physician team considers our differences

My dad is retired now; but John T. Boyer, MD was a practicing and very well regarded geriatrician when I first showed him the analysis in my previous “Men, Women and Snakes” posts. In the “Age and Sex of Snakebitten People” graph, the greatest difference between the sexes happened between 15 and 44 years of age; and after age 60 both sexes . . .

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January 24, 2016

Men, Women, and Snakes

Who gets bitten on the hand or on the foot?

Do rattlesnake bites affect men and women the same way?

In a previous article, I described a study of rattlesnake bites in Arizona, which showed some differences between men and women. Men were bitten more often than women, and at a younger age. Today, I’ll break down the same study’s data by month of the year, to illustrate a . . .

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December 31, 2015

Men, Women, and Snakes

Is it true that most rattlesnake bites involve young men?

Is it true that most of the time, rattlesnake bites involve young men?

To learn the answer, at least for my home state of Arizona, colleagues and I sampled three years’ worth of records from the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, by pulling out the record of every third case of rattlesnake bite. That process resulted in . . .

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December 21, 2015

Antivenom, antivenene, antivenin, Anti-Venom

Medical words in the public domain

What is the proper word for the antidote for snakebite or scorpion sting, made from the blood of animals that have been immunized with venom? Toxicologists and reptile enthusiasts correct each other all the time, on social media. But is one term really more proper than the other?

Let’s start with the inventors of the original . . .

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December 12, 2015

Thinking Outside the Quotes

Part 2: The Venom Interviewees

On August 9, 2010, my assistant received an email message that began, “I am producing a documentary film about people who work professionally with venomous reptiles.” The message went on to describe an ambitious program of interviews from California to Canada, coast to coast, scheduled to continue through that November. The film would be “ . . .

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November 24, 2015