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

Thinking Outside the Quotes

Part 1: what it is like to be the “expert” quoted by reporters

I started this blog partly so that I can explain my specialty (treatment of injuries caused by snakes, spiders and scorpions) to people who encounter these fascinating creatures in their work, their hobbies, or their travels. But before continuing I want to make a few comments about the things you may see in the general media, where experts . . .

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November 21, 2015

The Swollen Foot

Years after a snakebite, it still puffs up and hurts sometimes. Why?

Occasionally a person who has been snakebitten on the foot will recover in every way but one: months, or even years, after the injury, the leg will tend to swell up again – sometimes at very inconvenient moments. It doesn’t get red, there’s no sign of infection, but it’s all puffy and maybe it even throbs with pain. What’s with all that?

. . .

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November 19, 2015

How prepared is the US healthcare system to treat non-native snakebite?

Preparedness grades for each of the ten US Public Health Regions

In a recent article, I re-examined data collected over 17 years by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and I used it to construct a list of the Top Ten Exotic Snakebites in the USA. Exotic snakebites refers to bites by venomous snakes that do not naturally occur here in the USA. Over many years, the number of these creatures . . .

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November 14, 2015

Top Ten Exotic Snakebites in the USA

The non-native snake genera that most often cause US doctors to consider using antivenoms that lack FDA commercial licensure

Recently, I had occasion to draft a “Top Ten Exotic Snakebites” list, based on 17 years experience recorded by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. (Using the word “exotic” in this context means we are talking about bites by snakes that are not naturally found in the US, so the greater-than-4700 annual bites by native . . .

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November 11, 2015

Antivenom in the USA

Why zoo antivenom is different from what doctors expect

I’m often asked about the use of different antivenoms in the USA: why some can be purchased readily and others not; what the deal is with getting doctors to use them; and why zoos seem to be caught in the middle so much of the time. Here’s a simple guide. (Keep in mind as you read that I’m neither an attorney nor a regulatory expert, just a . . .

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November 05, 2015

Tips for venomous animal enthusiasts looking for the right doctor

Advice from a Medical Toxinologist

Because of their beauty, their amazing biology, and their use in developing medicines, venomous animals are now found in captive collections far beyond their native ranges. Fortunately, accidents involving them are rare. But people who take care of such animals need to be prepared for an emergency, and if they wait until the last minute . . .

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October 25, 2015


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