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Article
September 9, 1988

Incidence of Snakebite in Wilderness Rescue

Author Affiliations

University of Arizona College of Medicine Southern Arizona Rescue Association Tucson

University of Arizona College of Medicine Southern Arizona Rescue Association Tucson

JAMA. 1988;260(10):1405. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410100095021
Abstract

To the Editor.—  Snakebites are a common fear among the lay population. This is especially true in the desert environment of southern Arizona, where there are 11 different species of rattlesnake.1 Between 1985 and 1987, more than 380 individuals in this region have been seen at medical facilities with crotalid bites— all by rattlesnakes.2 Eight of nine fatalities from snakebite in Arizona between 1969 and 1984 occurred in this area.3It has been suggested that patients with unfavorable interactions with snakes (bites) frequently contribute to the situation, usually by overtly disturbing these timid creatures.4,5 Those bitten by crotalids are most often purposely handling the snakes, mentally incompetent to judge the danger of the situation—usually due to drugs or a young age—or inappropriately protected by clothing from the environment.3,6For the past 30 years, volunteers of the Southern Arizona Rescue Association have been traversing, on foot,

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