As cobras and vipers spread their deadly venom, it’s getting harder to save lives


With a quarter of a million fatalities every year, health organisations are struggling to cope. Now antivenom supplies are also under threat
In the late 1970s, a 50-year-old farmer was working in his fields in the Hausa region of west Africa when was he was bitten on the ankle by a snake, probably a carpet viper. Within two hours his leg was badly swollen. The unnamed man, whose case is included in a report by a group of doctors led by Oxford University tropical medicine specialist David Warrell took herbal medicine but continued to sicken. Six days later he was taken to hospital, where doctors found that his urine was bloodstained and he had suffered intense internal haemorrhages. A day later, he died.
The farmer’s fate was grim, if not uncommon at the time, but now, decades later, deaths from snakebites are still on the rise. Recent evidence shows that hundreds of thousands of individuals are dying every year as a result of encounters with cobras, vipers or kraits. Continue reading…