Viper Venom Kills German Snake Expert

An allergic reaction sent a reptile enthusiast into a cardiac episode that ended up killing him

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Vasily Fedosenko / REUTERS

A German snake expert died shortly after suffering several bites in southern France, German newspaper the Local reports. Dieter Zorn, 53, was in the middle of a presentation about reptiles when he was bitten several times by an Aspic viper. Due to a rare allergy, he suffered a heart attack and died shortly thereafter.

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Zorn had been travelling to different villages across the region, delivering presentations that focused on educating the public about snakes and reptiles and helping them overcome their fears of the creatures. After he got bitten, he managed to get the snake back into a cage, preventing it from attacking anyone else present, the Local notes. Emergency responders arrived at the scene and attempted to administer a blood thinner, but they weren’t able to save him.

Zorn’s “Reptile Show” co-host Uschi Kallus told the Local that the death resulted from an “extremely rare allergic reaction” and that the snake shouldn’t be blamed for the incident. The former hepatologist always encouraged his audience members to handle the snakes and other creatures — including crocodiles, scorpions and spiders — to help them get more comfortable. Kallus noted that the freak accident was “exceptionally uncommon.”

Aspic vipers, also known as asps, are native to France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, and are highly venomous.

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