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Friday, 31 May 2019

WHO: Snakebites kill at least 80,000 people per year and probably more

A green rainforest snake hisses.
A green rainforest snake hisses
                   
Millions of people across the world read about the horrors of the Ebola virus in 2014, when the deadly disease rapidly spread from a small village in Guinea to the rest of West Africa, Europe and the United States, killing around 11,000 people. 
The three-year outbreak attracted widespread international news coverage generating pervasive fear throughout the Western world.
However, as international news anchors warned citizens of the risks of the Ebola virus, another far deadlier killer swept sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and South Asia: venomous snakes.
Snakebite took the lives of up to 400,000 victims between 2014 and 2016, making it almost 40 times deadlier than the Ebola virus. 
Although there is a global medicinal cure for snakebite called "anti-venom," it still accounted for up to 130,000 deaths and over 300,000 paralyzing injuries and amputations last year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released an action plan on Thursday to change that.
The organization wants to cut the number of snakebite deaths in half by 2030 via a $136.76-million (€122.67-million) bid to educate communities on how to prevent snakebites and provide more widespread anti-venom medication to impoverished communities historically incapable of receiving proper timely care.
Most snakebites occur in developing countries
Statesman and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan once called snakebite "the biggest public health crisis you've never heard of."
In Western countries, fear of snakes is often considered an irrational anxiety akin to phobias of plane crashes, spiders and heights.
This makes sense: in the United States, venomous snakebites kill approximately five people per year. In Europe, the estimate is even smaller, at less than four deaths per year.
Developing countries tell a different story.
                                  Python snake
The global number of snakebite deaths, although estimated at anywhere from 81,000 to 138,000 by the WHO, is likely even higher than that, according to researchers.
Most deaths occur in rural villages in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Because many of the villages are hours away from local hospitals, up to 80% of victims often try to heal the bites through home remedies or local healers, according to the WHO.
Credit: DW



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