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August 31, 1895


JAMA. 1895;XXV(9):375-377. doi:10.1001/jama.1895.02430350031005

From the childhood of the world, serpents have been objects of great interest to mankind, regarded with awe and worshiped. Indeed snake worship is to be found even at the present time and in our own country, as witness the " snake dance" of the Moqui Indians of Arizona. The fact that these animals can progress rapidly over the ground, climb trees and swim through the water without limbs probably accounts for some of the interest manifested in them; but it is as agencies of terrible death that they exert a peculiar fascination. Animals, the bites of whose insignificant fangs will cause the death of even " My Lord, the Elephant " in two hours, are surely of more than ordinary interest. It is their poisonous qualities, then, that most concern the medical man, since about one-third the known species of snakes are poisonous, and the mortality from snake bites amounts to several