About 12 Americans die every year from venomous snake bites, but hundreds more are bitten and survive only because they receive life-saving antivenin in the nick of time.
Snake bites have just gotten even more deadly in America. That's because the antivenin for our nation's most lethal snake is in dangerously low supply. Here's what you need to know to stay safe!
"The Mojave rattlesnake is the most dangerous rattlesnake we have in the United States," says Jules Sylvester. "His venom is so toxic that one drop would knock you dead. If he bites you and you don't get antivenin, you will die."
However, there is another, much more potent snake than the rattlesnake that requires extra cautionary measures: the North American coral snake.
This snake has a very, very powerful venom. The neurotoxin is designed to kill things very fast, essentially turning off the autonomic neurosystem throughout the body. You can go blind, deaf, speechless or breathless and eventually, your heart stops.
If one bites you, the only thing that will save your life is an injection of coral snake antivenin. But production of the serum stopped several years ago and most of the country's supply has expired.
If the hospital is able to get the antivenin in time, it will come with a hefty price tag. It's about $15,000 for one vile -- and you'll need five or six viles.
"If you spot a tri-colored snake, it's not necessarily a coral snake. It could be one of several non-venomous species that mimic the coral snake's colors and live in the same areas," Jules explains. "The key to identifying the coral snake is that phrase you may have learned in kindergarten: Red and yellow kill a fellow, red and black, you're okay Jack."
Those two bright colors together, red and yellow, denote that it is a coral snake. If the red only touches black, it's a non-venomous snake.
Coral snakes are found primarily throughout the southeastern United States, as well as in parts of Texas and Arizona. While they are generally reclusive and non-aggressive, it's still best to know what you could be up against and avoid an encounter at all costs.
"It's absolutely beautiful," says Jules. "But you do not want to get bitten by it!"
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