Snakebite envenomings remain a neglected disease across the globe causing severe injuries and death. An understanding of regional snakebite patterns is a necessary prerequisite for public health programs aimed at reducing snakebite risks. However, such regional knowledge is poorly documented or lacking in many countries where the risk of snakebite envenomings receive little medical attention, and the Republic of Korea is one of these countries. Here, we reviewed the literature on snakebites published between 1970 and 2020 as well as public healthcare data recorded between 2010 and 2019 to determine the patterns of snakebite envenomings in the Republic of Korea. Our results, based on literature data, show Gangwon province as a hotspot of snakebite occurrences and identify middle-aged males living in rural areas as the demographic group at highest risk of venomous snakebites. We also highlight major limitations for further understanding snakebite patterns in the country, most notably the lack of proper species identification for snakes and conflicting patterns of envenomings revealed by different sources of data. Our study provides baseline information on venomous snakebites occurring in the Republic of Korea, thereby filling a gap in the knowledge of snakebite trends in the country.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. We also thank Mr. Hyun-Tae Kim (Seosan High School) for providing pictures of terrestrial venomous snakes of South Korea used in Fig. 1. and Mark O'Shea (University of Wolverhampton) and one anonymous reviewer for providing helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. The first author thanks Dami Jeong (Ewha Womans University) for long hours of discussions and encouragements while writing this manuscript. The authors declare no conflicts of interest. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
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