Man Dies of Very Rare Snake Bite in Australia

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SYDNEY - A man has died in Australia after being bitten by one of the world's most venomous snakes -- a rare fatality despite the country being home to the planet's 10 deadliest species.

Andrew Vaughan's body was found by a search party last week after he went missing while checking power lines in dense bushland near Yeppoon, 700 kilometres (430 miles) north of Brisbane.

An autopsy had determined that the 57-year-old died from a taipan bite, his employer Ergon Energy said.

Vaughan became separated from colleagues in thick scrub at the remote site last Thursday and the alarm was raised when he ceased responding to radio and phone contact.

"Andrew was working with another workmate and a contract backhoe operator clearing a track to get access to a pole for maintenance work to be carried out at a later time," Ergon executive Peter Billing told ABC radio.

"At some stage during those activities Andrew had been bitten by the snake."

According to an internal email from Billing to Ergon staff, Vaughan appeared to have died almost instantly and was unable to be revived when a search party of police, emergency workers and colleagues found him three hours later.

"The taipan is regarded as Australia's most dangerous species of snake," Billing wrote to staff, according to an excerpt of the email published by Fairfax newspapers.

"I urge you to treat all snakes as venomous and ensure you consider your surroundings and any potential hazards."

It is the second time in almost as many months an Australian has been bitten by a taipan -- a 17-year-old survived an inland taipan bite in September north of Sydney after swift treatment in hospital with anti-venom.

The inland taipan or "fierce snake" is ranked by the Australian Venom Research Unit as the world's most venomous -- a single drop can kill 100 men.

Its less toxic cousin, the coastal taipan which is native to the Yeppoon area, still packs a deadly punch; it is the world's third-most venomous snake.

According to official estimates there are about 3,000 snake bite cases in Australia every year, 300-500 of which require anti-venom treatment. An average of two prove fatal.

Australia is home to 20 of the world's 25 most venomous snakes, including the entire top 10.

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Given that Australia has the most venomous snakes out of any country, shouldn't they advise people to wear long pants tucked into high workboots?

November 08 2012 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He was working HEMLOK. Probably as he did a thousand time's in the same environment. It's that one time that get's you. Very rare but the odds are you will come upon one. I live in FLA and I come across and almost have stepped on an Alligator or Rattler many a time. They do not warn you most of the time. Human presence usually scare's these predators away but there are a few isolated cases such as this one that they stand their ground for whatever reason being it protecting eggs or their young or just no place to escape from you.

November 08 2012 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

if these people are not aware of the snakes in a given area where they work, they should be. i think they are just a little fool-hearty and careless in their bravado around venomous snakes. i was born and raised in texas around rattlesnakes and went on snake drives with my dad and his friends. no one ever got bitten due to being stupid or TOO BRAVE. the taipan is ultra aggressive and does not have a (rattle) to warn you if you get too close. this is a sad story but i think it could have been avoided with proper thought and protection. my dad always said that the one that bites you is usually the one you don't see or hear. i feel bad for the man's family. however, if these worker's don't learn from this, it WILL happen again.

November 08 2012 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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