Poisonous animal bites in the Israel Defense Forces

Jacob Haviv, Michael Huerta, Ofer Shpilberg, Eyal Klement, Nahman Ash, Itamar Grotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Soldiers in field units of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are susceptible to injury by various poisonous animals during training and operations. Bites and envenomations by animals such as snakes, scorpions, and spiders can be painful and debilitating, and at times life-threatening. We have examined the extent of exposure of IDF soldiers to snake and arthropod bites and the morbidity resulting from these encounters. Methods: All reports of IDF soldiers who sought medical attention for snake or arthropod bites between the years 1993-1997 were reviewed at the IDF Medical Corps Headquarters. Monthly distribution of cases was noted for all years, and geographic distribution was studied for all 1997 cases. Results: Over the period 1993-1997 there was a yearly rate of 32-52 physician visits per 100,000 soldiers due to snakebites (mean 43.6 / 100,000), and 1370-1729 physician visits per 100,000 soldiers due to arthropod bites (mean 1478 / 100,000). There is a clear overall increase in snake and arthropod bites during the spring and summer months, with a peak in snakebites in May and in arthropod bites in August. 58% of all snakebites in Israel were reported in the central region, with 33% occurring in the south, and 9% in the north of the country. No fatalities due to envenomations have been reported in the IDF in recent years. Conclusion: poisonous animal species pose a significant threat to the soldiers of the IDF. Overall, envenomation is a common and widespread problem that has significant impact on the military medical system, especially during the spring and summer months. It is possible through institution of proper preventive measures to decrease the exposure of IDF personnel to this environmental hazard.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-245
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Israel Defense Forces
  • Poisonous animal (snake, arthropod) bites


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