Venomous snakebites can result in serious morbidity and mortality. In the USA, the “T’s of snakebites” (testosterone, teasing, touching, trucks, tattoos & toothless (poverTy), Texas, tequila, teenagers, and tanks) originate from anecdotes used to colloquially highlight venomous snakebite risk factors. We performed an epidemiologic assessment of venomous snakebites in the USA with the objective of evaluating the validity of the “T’s of snakebites” at a national level.
We performed a retrospective analysis of the National Emergency Department Sample. Data from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016 were obtained. All emergency department (ED) encounters corresponding to a venomous snakebite injury were identified using the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) codes. Primary outcomes were mortality and inpatient admission. Demographic, injury, and hospital characteristics were assessed. Data were analyzed according to survey methodology. Weighted values are reported.
In 2016, 11 138 patients presented to an ED with a venomous snakebite. There were 4173 (37%) persons aged 18 to 44, and 7213 (65%) were male. Most snakebites were reported from the South (n=9079; 82%), although snakebites were reported from every region in the USA. Only 3792 (34%) snakebites occurred in rural counties. Persons in the lowest income quartile by zip code were the most heavily represented (n=4337; 39%). The most common site of injury was the distal upper extremity (n=4884; 44%). Multivariate analysis revealed that species of snake (OR=0.81; 95% CI 0.73 to 0.88) and older age (OR=1.42; 95% CI 1.08 to 1.87) were associated with hospital admission. There were <10 inpatient deaths identified, and no variables were predictive of death.
Some of the “T’s of snakebites” may be valid colloquial predictors of the risk for venomous snakebites. Based on national data, common demographics of venomous snakebite victims include lower income, Caucasian, and adult men in the South who are bit on the upper extremity. Understanding common demographics of venomous snakebite victims can effectuate targeted public health prevention messaging.