24.01.2008 Health

Snake bites under-reported in Ghana

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Snake venom poisoning is a common emergency especially in certain rural farming communities and the estimated number of deaths in Africa is 400 to 1000 per year, Ghana Medical Journal has reported.

It said in Ghana the reported admission cases and deaths suggest that the problem is underreported and that the epidemiological features vary from continent to continent and region to region.

There are about 3,000 species of snakes in the world to date, of which 300 species are poisonous to man.

About 25 species of Africa origin are believed to cause death in humans with similar number causing swellings and local pain.

The journal reported an estimated death rate for snake venom poisoning in Africa as a whole as 800 per year.

In 1998 and 1999 in Ashanti Region, the reported Out Patient Department cases of snake-bite were 555 and 632 respectively accounting for about 0.56 percent of all of O.P.D. cases, yet only 29 cases were reported to have been admitted in 1999 with no reported death.

It said the case fatality rate of snake venom poisoning could be improved with early reporting at the hospital for treatment with extensive education of local communities and local standardized treatment protocols, a high survival chance could be achieved.

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