As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, it’s time to appreciate what the man did for Ireland. Specifically, he brought Catholicism to the island nation, and has become a defining figure of the country’s history.
What he did not do, unfortunately, was drive away all the snakes. That’s a beloved story, but it’s nonetheless merely a story. Snakes are not native to Ireland, but scientists and historians believe they were wiped out not by St. Patrick but rather by an ice age.
Over the centuries, people have occasionally brought snakes to Ireland as pets, but for the most part the sinuous reptiles remain a non-native oddity on the Emerald Isle. One result of this situation is a long-standing record of no victims of venomous snakebites in the country.
In late February of this year, a streak of centuries came to an abrupt end.
A 22 year old Dublin man was bitten by his pet snake and rushed to the Connolly Hospital. Due to his familiarity with the snake, doctors knew exactly what type of antivenin was required. The knowledge wasn’t enough to end the matter, though, because the snake in question is a puff adder, with a necrotic venom similar in its effects to the bite of a brown recluse spider. Not only is the snake bite unusually damaging and even deadly, the snake is rare enough that its antivenin is in short supply… and even less available than normal in Ireland, which hadn’t previously seen any attacks.
The hospital was forced to reach out to Ireland’s National Reptile Zoo for aid. This is when doctors learned that the zoo didn’t have any of the necessary medicine. Staff at the zoo contacted the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and enough of the curative was found to counteract some of the worst effects of the adder venom.
The 22 year old might still want to consider a different pet.
Question of the Night: Have you ever been injured by one of your pets?