As many as 138,000 people die from venomous snakebites every year. Primarily affecting poor rural populations in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, snakebite is an overlooked cause of mortality, also affecting livestock causing a burden on already impoverished communities.
Aiming to identify the most vulnerable populations at risk of snakebite, researchers mapped the distributions of 278 venomous snakes dangerous to humans, producing high resolution range maps for 179 species using GBIF-mediated occurrences. They further triangulated these data with metrics of antivenom availability, access to healthcare and efficacy of medical interventions.
While nearly seven billion people live within range of areas inhabited by snakes, the study identified 166 million living in areas with at least one venomous snake and more than 3 hours from urban centres with healthcare.
Within the lowest three deciles of healthcare quality, the authors highlight Angola, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as hotspots of vulnerable populations, with more than 92 million people at risk.