In Panama, any and all snakes are suspect


When biologist Julie Ray first came to the remote Panamanian cloud-forest town of El Copé to do doctoral research, residents were killing snakes indiscriminately—and not without reason. The small Central American nation of 3.6 million people has the highest rate of snakebites in Latin America, with more than 1,500 hospitalizations per year, according to the country’s health ministry. El Copé is in the interior of Coclé province, just south of the continental divide. The province had the second-highest number of snakebite hospitalizations in Panama, a rate of more than one per 1,000 residents. Panama reported 18 deaths by snakebite in 2010. Snakebites cause 43 hospitalizations for every 100,000 Panama residents compared to 12 per 100,000 residents in Costa Rica, Panama’s northern neighbor... [Log in to read more]

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