By Hajara Leman
The Snake Bite Treatment and Research Centre in Kaltungo, Gombe State, says it has recorded 24 deaths out of the 1,829 cases of snake bites recorded between January and August.
The officer in charge of the centre, Dr Abubakar Ballah, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaltungo on Monday.
He said the 24 deaths recorded were due to the lateness in reporting cases to the hospital, with many of the patients admitted in critical conditions.
“Today is Sept. 10 and we have 84 patients in our records currently receiving treatment and probably more patients will come before the month ends.
“The cases are on the increase because of the downpour which dislodges snakes from their holes to seek higher ground because they do not like wet environment.
“They climb trees, maize or millet to keep away from water; that is the reason why people are severely bitten,’’ he said.
He said apart from farmers, herds men who climb trees to cut leaves for their livestock are also at risk as well as those who go to the bush to fetch firewood.
Ballah appealed to farmers to refrain from staying late in their farms, saying snakes often come out in the evening to look for prey.
He also lamented the attitude of treating victims at home with the use of herbs until the condition had deteriorated.
“We are calling on their relatives to stop giving snake bite victims herbs because some of the herbs cause the person to vomit, thereby making the condition to deteriorate.
“The only first aid you can give to a snake bite patient is paracetamol and then you rush to the hospital.
“We have drugs in sufficient quantity and enough backing by the state government.
“Even though some of the patients we receive come from the neighbouring states, they receive treatment free of charge like indigenes,’’ he said.