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Plateau health centre admits 1,500 snakebite patients in 10 months

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A health centre in Zamko, Langtang North Local Council of Plateau State at the weekend said it has recorded 1,500 cases of snakebites in the last 10 months. This was made known by Dr. Istifanus Bako, its medical officer.

Bako, who is attached to the centre, which is a rural outpost of the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), said “most of the victims are youths, who dip hands into rat holes and get bitten.”

Other victims, he said, included cattle rearers tending their flock, as well as farmers. He said the numbers were rising with more patients brought in daily.

“On the average, we record three to four cases daily. On some particularly bad days, we record close to 10 patients with snakebites.

“The patients keep coming and we have run out of bed space. Some are admitted and accommodated on benches and corridors,” he said.

Bako, however, said that only two deaths had been recorded this year, unlike in 2015 where more than 10 deaths were recorded. He blamed the two deaths on the late presentation of the cases.

“The victims did not come to the hospital early as they first visited a traditional doctor before discovering their situation was growing worse.”

The medical practitioner attributed the large number of snakes in the area to the peculiar sandy terrain, noting that the sand usually give the snakes an excellent habitat and ease of movement.

He said that the venomous vipers, which were common in the area, also use the sand as a good camouflage.

Bako explained that snakebites usually become more common during the hot season, compared to the cold season, because the snakes move around in search of cooler habitats and could end up in people’s homes.

He said that the hospital was sensitising the villagers on the need to desist from rat hunting, while those who must enter the bush were being advised to put on protective shoes.


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