April 29, 2016
A peculiar thing happens in northern Florida every year in the springtime. That’s harvest season on the many fern farms scattered across the region, and it’s also the time when demand for rattlesnake antivenom skyrockets there.
That’s no coincidence. Rattlesnakes like to form dens under fern crops, it turns out. That means trouble for those who harvest the plants, and it puts urgent pressure on local hospitals and healthcare providers, which must come up with the highly perishable antivenom on demand.
“A lot of times you never really know how much you’re going to need,” said Kyle Pudenz, senior director of purchasing for pharmaceutical wholesaler H. D. Smith. “But you also can’t stock up and leave it on the shelf.”