'Record' number of Norwegians suffer snake bites during hot summer

The Local Norway
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'Record' number of Norwegians suffer snake bites during hot summer
File photo: Paul Kleiven / SCANPIX

Warm and dry summer weather has resulted in an increased number of Norwegians suffering adder bites.


Advice line Giftinformasjonen (Poison Information), which is run by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, received twice as many inquiries on the subject of snake bites in June compared to the same month last year, news agency NTB reports.

“We have received a lot of inquiries this year and it is certainly a record year in terms of adder bites,” Giftinformasjonen head of department Marie Tosterud told NTB.

The service is reported to have been contacted 105 times in relation to adder bites last month, compared to 52 times in June 2017.

“The increase is probably due to the warm weather we’ve had so far, which results in people being outside more and using thin shoes,” Tosterud said.

Giftinformasjonen has received a total of 221 inquiries so far in 2018. The total for the whole of 2017 was 257.

Although those numbers do not represent national statistics, they reflect the number of times the helpline was contacted due to concerns over bites. Neither is there any data as to where in the country the most instances of adder bites have occurred.

The animal can be found in most of the country, although rarely north of Arctic Circle city Bodø, NTB writes.

It is not unusual for the snake to strike without being seen, Tosterud explained.

“Some people experience an acute pain. They then spot the characteristic two-dot bite mark, the dots separated by around 3-9mm. Then they call us,” she said.

A number of cases have resulted in hospital treatment, she added.

Being bitten does not necessarily require medical attention, but children, the elderly, people who are not in good general health and those who take certain types of medication to regulate blood pressure are advised to contact a doctor if bitten, the Giftinformasjonen head of department said.

“We tailor our advice depending on the person who has been bitten, how much time has passed since the bite and the symptoms the affected person has. Healthy adults without symptoms are generally advised to keep an eye on the bite at home, while people in risk groups such as children, the elderly and pregnant women are often sent to see a doctor to be checked,” Tosterud said, adding that anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical advice.

Deaths resulting from bites from the snake, Latin name vipera berus, are extremely rare. Dogs and other pets are more at risk, however, and should be taken to a vet immediately if bitten.

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