Kolkata, Mar 19 (UNI) Snake bite is a neglected public health issue in many tropical and subtropical countries.
Though the exact number of snake bites is unknown, an estimated 5.4 million people are bitten each year with up to 2.7 million cases of envenoming (poisoning from snake bites). Around 81 000 to 138 000 people die each year as a result of snake bites, and around three times as many amputations and other permanent disabilities are caused by snakebites annually.
Most of these occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Asia up to 2 million people are envenomed by snakes each year, while in Africa there are an estimated 435 000 to 580 000 snake bites annually that need treatment, a WHO statement said.
Envenoming affects women, children and farmers in poor rural communities in low- and middle-income countries. The highest burden occurs in countries where health systems are weakest and medical resources sparse.
Bites by venomous snakes can cause acute medical emergencies involving severe paralysis that may prevent breathing, cause bleeding disorders that can lead to fatal haemorrhage, cause irreversible kidney failure and severe local tissue destruction that can cause permanent disability and limb amputation.
Children may suffer more severe effects, and can experience the effects more quickly than adults due to their smaller body mass.
In contrast to many other serious health conditions, a highly effective treatment exists. Most deaths and serious consequences from snake bites are entirely preventable by making safe and effective antivenoms more widely available and accessible.