Created by Susan Stagg-Williams, Dieter Andrew Schweiss, Gavin Sy, and H. Scott Fogler, 1994
Updated by Apeksha Bandi, Gustav Sandborgh, and Arthur Shih, 2013

Background Information

The country of Thailand is half a world away from the United States. It is a land of vast jungles, inquisitive people, and ancient traditions. Unfortunately, it is also the home of some of the most dangerous snakes in the world, and approximately 2,500 people die each year in Thailand as a direct result of being bitten by such snakes.

Until recently, the medical world was uncertain about the mechanism by which snake venom attacked the human body. Fortunately, research in this area has progressed rapidly in the past thirty years, and medical science has been able to determine what happens when someone is bitten by a poisonous snake. This knowledge has resulted in the development of antivenoms that can save snake bite victims, but only if they are injected in time with an appropriate dosage of the correct antivenom.

A close-up view of a King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)!

Two of the deadliest snakes in Thailand are the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and the Siamese Cobra (Naja siamensis). The King Cobra's venom is one of the most lethal and fast-acting neurotoxins found in nature, and the Siamese Cobra's venom is just as troublesome. A single bite from either of these snakes can incapacitate a human respiratory system within 30 minutes, after which death swiftly follows, unless an injection of antivenom is immediately available.