Death By Snake Bite

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The Guardian has an interesting story about snake bite deaths in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The story documents about how the effects of snakebites are compounded by the DRC’s lack of infrastructure and poverty.

One of the fascinating statistics in the story is how many people die worldwide from snakebites,

Globally, about 5m snake bites occur worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization, resulting in between 81,000 and 138,000 deaths. A bite from a viper, cobra or mamba can kill in a matter of hours or leave a victim suffering life-changing injury.

I would not have thought the total deaths would be so high, so decided to track down the WHO statistics that The Guardian cites,

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 5 million snakebites occur each year, resulting in up to 2.7 million envenomings. Published reports suggest that between 81,000 and 138,000 deaths occur each year. Snakebite envenoming causes as many as 400,000 amputations and other permanent disabilities. Many snakebites go unreported, often because victims seek treatment from non-medical sources or do not have access to health care. As a result it is believed that many cases of snakebite go unreported.

That underreporting means the actual total of snake bites and deaths may be significantly higher,

One of the consequences of inadequate efforts to control snakebite envenoming in the past is that the available epidemiological data are fragmented and lack both resolution and completeness. Accuracy is further reduced by the fact that many victims do not attend health centres or hospitals, and instead rely on traditional treatments. As a result, in some countries the degree of under-reporting is greater than 70% especially in rural areas with poor infrastructure.

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