List of fatal snake bites in Australia

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The Eastern brown snake is responsible for around 60% of deaths caused by snakebite in Australia.[1]

Although Australian snakes can be very venomous, comparatively little is known about the protein compositions of venoms from Australian snakes, compared to those of Asia and America. Wide access to antivenom and adequate medical care has made deaths exceedingly rare with only a few fatalities each year. Australian snakes possess potent venom: 5 of the world's top 10 most venomous snakes live in Australia.[2]

Number of snake bites[edit]

The estimated incidence of snakebites annually in Australia is between 3 and 18 per 100,000 with an average mortality rate of 0.03 per 100,000 per year.[3] Between 1979 and 1998 there were 53 deaths from snakes, according to data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.[4]

Between 1942 and 1950 there were 56 deaths from snakebite recorded in Australia. Of 28 deaths in the 1945-49 period, 18 occurred in Queensland, 6 in New South Wales, 3 in Western Australia and 1 in Tasmania.[5] A Queensland government occupational health publication[6]

A data visualization about fatal snake bites in Australia since 1986 (showing year, age/gender of victim, location and snake type)

Below is a list of fatal snake bites that occurred in Australia in reverse chronological order. The list omits snake bite-related deaths where the actual cause of death was an unprovoked snake bite. Omitted incidents include cases where someone died from falling after receiving a bite, or where a person deliberately provoked or handled a snake.

2010s[edit]

23 December 2018 Ganmain Nsw
Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Nathan Scattini, 45yo male 17 March 2019 Unknown Champion Lakes, Western Australia; Nathan Scattini telephoned emergency services, saying he had been bitten by a snake while bushwalking in the Kelmscott area. Emergency services were unable to locate Scattini or make further contact and a search operation commenced. Police located Scattini's body in bushland the following Tuesday.[7]
Callum Edwards, 20yo male 29 December 2018 Tiger Snake Lardner, 5 km south-west of Warragul, Victoria; Bitten whilst attending the Beyond the Valley music festival on 29 December 2018 and was airlifted to hospital, where he died on 1 January 2019. His death was initially suspected to have occurred from a drug overdose, however medical staff later found traces of tiger snake venom in his system.[8]
Mary Nicholls, 83yo female 9 October 2018 Koorda, Western Australia[9]
Harry Evans, 23yo male 6 October 2018 Unknown Sea Snake species Offshore, near Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory; First sea snake fatality in Australia since 1935.[10]
46yo male 19 April 2018 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis Deeragun, Queensland[11]
Sinita Martin, 27yo female 5 February 2018 Unknown Meekatharra, Western Australia; The 27-year-old victim's unborn baby also died as a result of the snake bite.[12]
24yo male 10 January 2018 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis (Unconfirmed) Tamworth, New South Wales[13]
David Pitt, 77yo male 26 December 2016 Coastal Taipan

Oxyuranus scutellatus

Yorkeys Knob, north of Cairns, Queensland[14]
Wayne Cameron, 54yo male 10 April 2016 Coastal Taipan Snake Oxyuranus scutellatus Rockhampton, Queensland[15]
6yo female 5 February 2016 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis Walgett, New South Wales[16]
62yo male 25 October 2015 Brown Snake or Taipan (Unconfirmed) Townsville, Queensland[17]
75yo female 17 August 2015 Dugite Snake South Fremantle, Western Australia[18]
Dane Kowalski, 27yo male December 2014 Unknown 95 km south of Coober Pedy, South Australia; presumed bitten[19]
27yo male 6 November 2014 Tiger Snake Jarrahmond, Victoria[20]
41yo male 8 October 2014 Western brown snake Pseudonaja mengdeni Laverton, Western Australia[21]
59yo female 2 November 2013 Unknown Glen Oak, New South Wales; most likely bitten by an Eastern brown snake Pseudonaja textilis[22]
Karl Berry, 26yo 23 April 2013 Western brown snake Pseudonaja nuchalis Darwin, Northern Territory[23]
60yo male 10 March 2013 Stephen's Banded Snake Hoplocephalus stephensii Kalang, New South Wales[24]
Colin Field, 80yo male 3 December 2012 Brown Snake Wilsons Plains, Queensland[25]
Andrew Vaughan, 57yo male 1 November 2012 Coastal Taipan Yeppoon, Queensland
Ashley Leishman, 26yo male 8 October 2012 Eastern Brown Snake Miles, Queensland[26]
Andrew Smith, 35yo 17 November 2011 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis Emerald, Queensland[27]
Narelle Pails, 42yo 2 November 2011 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis Warwick, Queensland[28]
Ben Steers, 17yo 11 September 2011 Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis Warwick, Queensland
Michael Thorpe, 43yo male 26 November 2010 Western brown snake Pseudonaja nuchalis Gingin, Western Australia[29][30]

2000s[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
60yo female 15 January 2009 Western brown snake Pseudonaja nuchalis Carnarvon, Western Australia[30]
Ron Siggins, 37yo male 2007 Whip snake Harcourt, Victoria[31]
Milena Swilks 2007 Eastern brown snake Rocky River, New South Wales; south of Armidale[32]
16yo boy January 2007 Eastern brown snake Whalan, New South Wales; bitten on hand, believed trek to find help in hot conditions may have advanced spread of venom[33]

1990s[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Joey McGlashan, 7yo male 1999 Tiger Snake Kennet River, Victoria
Tony Patterson 1998 Tiger Snake High Wycombe, Western Australia
Michael Ross 1998 Desert Death Adder Broome, Western Australia[34]
Murray Plane, 33yo male 1 December 1997 Western brownsnake or gwardar (Pseudonaja mengdeni) Tarmoola Gold Mine, North of Leonora, Western Australia; Man inebriated and handling snake which he and his friends found in miners' quarters during the night of 1 December. Air-ambulanced to Royal Perth Hospital where he subsequently died on 4 December[35]
Richard Scott 6 February 1994 Northern death adder Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia[35]
31yo male 24 February 1993 Western Brown Snake or Gwardar (Pseudonaja mengdeni) Unwitnessed. Snake in bucket, victim found unconscious with head injuries. Assumed to have been bitten, resulting in a fall. Antivenom administered at Derby Hospital but with no improvement. Patient air-ambulanced to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where he died.[35]
50yo male 1993 Eastern Brown Bundaberg, Queensland

1980s[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
33yo female 1989 Western Brown Carnarvon, Western Australia[34]
61yo female 1986 Western Brown Cervantes, Western Australia[34]

1950s[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Kevin Budden, 20yo male 28 July 1950 Coastal taipan Cairns, Queensland; specimen captured and subsequently milked by David Fleay in Melbourne to produce first antivenom.

1940s[edit]

Pelion Hut, Overland Track, Tasmania Miss Dorothy Vera Townson, 1948, 39 y.o. She had been bitten twice on the lower right leg by a snake, believed to be a tiger snake, about 11.30 am on Wednesday. The snake hung on and bruised her leg after the second strike. The punctures were lacerated and tourniquets applied, but the treatment was ineffective, and Miss Townson died at 4.30 am on Thursday.[37]
Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
4yo male September 1946 Hampton, New South Wales[36]
Miss Norma Wells 1940 Goulburn River while walking beside the river, died later in hospital[38]

1930s[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Luigi Valese, 4yo male 8 October 1936 Death Adder Mossman, QLD; Bitten on his cane farm while in the fields with his father.[39]
Maso Fukami, 23yo male 24 October 1935 Sea Snake Offshore, near Bathurst Island, Northern Territory[40]
Mr Archibald Thompson, 54yo male 15 March 1934 Brown snake Greta, NSW. while in the bush [41]
Mrs. Mervyn Cole 1932 Horsham, Victoria; while fishing[42]
13yo male March 1932 Gosford, New South Wales[43]
25yo male August 1930 Brown snake near Ingham, Queensland[44]
11yo female February 1930 Death adder Toowoomba, Queensland[45]

1920s[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comment
Colleera Telford 13 December 1920 Unknown Apollo Bay, Victoria on her parent's dairy farm. 3-year-old girl. Puncture marks found on leg after death.
Charles McPherson December 1925 Tiger snake Molesworth, Tasmania; bitten while reading on a camping trip, died in hospital 12 hours later[46]

1910s[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Vogel boy 1917 Tintaldra, Victoria[47]
21yo male November 1915 Laverton, Victoria[48]
14yo male March 1910 Casterton, Victoria; was rabbiting with friends, bitten when put hand in a burrow to get a rabbit[49]
Howard Thomas 1910 Brown snake Queensland[50]

1900s[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Hugh McDay 1909 Deloraine, Tasmania[51]
Walter Harden 1908 Maroubra, New South Wales<ref"Fatal Snake-bite, Maroubra Bay". The Argus. 11 December 1908. p. 8. Retrieved 9 May 2019 – via National Library of Australia.</ref>
Ronald Whitechurch 1908 Seymour, Victoria[52]
Frances McKnight 1907 Middle Harbour, New South Wales; snake bit her three times on ankle while gathering wild-flowers[53]
small boy November 1906 Yea, Victoria[54]
15yo boy October 1902 Tiger snake Coonong, New South Wales; bitten on the calf while bird-catching, died four hours later[55]
13yo girl November 1900 Bendigo, Victoria[56]

Before 1900[edit]

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
74yo male farmer 1899 Tiger snake Kilmore, Victoria; bitten on little finger[57]
9yo boy 1899 Congbool station, Balmoral, Victoria[58]
young girl January 1899 Bruthen, Victoria; trod on snake while carrying parcel[59]
young girl 1898 Waikerie, South Australia; girl put her hand in a log that a rabbit ran into and was bitten by a snake[60]
8yo girl January 1896 Strzelecki, Victoria, near Korumburra; bitten while asleep[61]
8yo boy 1895 Tiger snake Inverary, New South Wales, near Bungonia; bitten while crossing a paddock barefooted[62]
10yo boy 6 July 1893 Tiger snake Stawell, Victoria[63]
unnamed Chinese gardener 1887 Wangaratta, Victoria; bitten on heel, died in hospital[64]
12yo boy 1878 Tiger snake Alexandra, Victoria; bitten while planting potatoes[65]
Mrs Falconer December 1875 Swan Hill, Victoria[66]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mirtschin, P.J.; R. Shineb; T.J. Niasa; N.L. Dunstana; B.J. Hougha; M. Mirtschina (November 2002). "Influences on venom yield in Australian tigersnakes (Notechis scutatus) and brownsnakes (Pseudonaja textilis: Elapidae, Serpentes)" (PDF). Toxicon. 40 (11): 1581–92. doi:10.1016/S0041-0101(02)00175-7. PMID 12419509. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  2. ^ "Sub-cutaneous LD-50s". VenomDoc.com. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011.
  3. ^ Chippaux, JP (1998). "Snake-bites: appraisal of the global situation". Bull. World Health Organ. 76: 515–24. PMC 2305789. PMID 9868843.
  4. ^ Fatalities from Venomous Animals Australian Venom Research Unit
  5. ^ Swaroop, S; Grab, B. "Snakebite mortality in the world". Bull World Health Organ. 10: 35–76. PMC 2542029. PMID 13150169.
  6. ^ Preventing and Managing Snake Bites 2013 Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment
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  15. ^ Zhanae Conway-Dodd (11 February 2016). "Snake catcher did own first aid after bite, died 50mins later". Daily Mercury. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
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  63. ^ "Fatal case of snake-bite, Stawell". The Argus. 26 April 1893. p. 6. Retrieved 9 May 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  64. ^ "Fatal case of snake bite, Wangaratta". The Argus. 25 February 1887. p. 9. Retrieved 9 May 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  65. ^ "Fatal snake bite, Alexandra". The Argus. 6 December 1878. p. 5. Retrieved 9 May 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  66. ^ "The Fatal case of snake-poisoning at Swan Hill". The Argus. 10 December 1875. p. 10. Retrieved 9 May 2019 – via National Library of Australia.

External links[edit]