In Australia there are about 3,000 snake bites per year, of which 200 to 500 receive antivenom; on average one or two will prove fatal. About half the deaths are due to bites from the brown snake; the rest mostly from tiger snake, taipan and death adder. Some deaths are sudden, however in fact it is uncommon to die within four hours of a snake bite.
Struan Sutherland’s ‘Death from snake bite in Australia, 1981-1991’ (The Medical Journal of Australia, December 1991, Volume 7, pages 740-46) contains some graphic descriptions of the 18 known fatal snake bites in that ten year period.
In 1906, the untreated death rates were as high as 40% to 50% for death adder and tiger snake bites! Improved supportive treatment and the availability of effective antivenoms has reduced this considerably.