Trends in Snakebites Related to Texas Tropical Storms and Hurricanes, 2000–2017

Joann Schulte, Ashley Haynes, Eric Anthony Smith, John Fleming, Kurt Kleinschmidt, Brett Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction: Anecdotal media reports suggest an increase in snakebites after hurricanes. After Hurricane Harvey, several households called Texas poison control centers to report snakebites that occurred when rising water flooded homes. Patterns of snakebite before and after hurricane landfalls have not been well studied. Methods: We reviewed retrospective surveillance data from the Texas Poison Control Network to examine snakebites possibly related to tropical storms/hurricanes that hit Texas between 2000 and 2017. For that assessment, we compared 2 groups of counties: those designated for individual assistance (impact counties) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and all others (nonimpact counties). Typically, counties with individual assistance declarations are those in which damage is worse and resident return may be delayed. Results: Eleven named tropical storms/hurricanes struck Texas between 2000 and 2017; 9 received individual assistance declarations. During the 18 y, 2037 snakebites were reported in the 30 d after and the 30 d before landfalls in 9 storms; 132 (6%) occurred poststorm in impact counties, and 13 of 132 (9%) of the case narratives mentioned hurricanes as a contributing factor. Impact counties were not statistically more likely to report snakebites in the 30 d after landfall for any of the 9 storms or overall, nor did we find differences in patient demographic characteristics, type of snake, and care patterns post- and prestorm. Conclusions: There was no evidence of increases in snakebites after hurricanes in Texas during the study period. More detailed evaluations may be warranted in other regions that experience hurricanes and have venomous snake populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-201
Number of pages5
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Keywords

  • FEMA
  • climate change
  • disaster declaration
  • natural disasters
  • poison control centers
  • snakes
  • weather

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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