THERE is a spike in cases of snakebite across Nigeria as humans and reptiles clash in dry land due to displacement caused by the floods across the country, a survey by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has revealed.
NAN correspondents who visited areas prone to snakebites and treatment centres found a sharp rise in the cases with more deaths recorded as the floods blocked access to treatment centres.
Managing Director of Echitap Group, producers of Anti-Snake Venom (ASV) Nandul Durfa who spoke to NAN regretted that many lives were being lost to the menace.
The former Chief Medical Director of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, also decried the shortage of ASV in the treatment centres.
“It is a scary situation. Snakes and humans are all running away from the floods and would usually clash in the dry lands in the struggle for space”, Durfa said.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Snakebite Research Hospital, Kaltungo, in Gombe State indicate that 1,900 victims of snake bites had been admitted since January.
According to the the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Suleiman Mohammed, 34 of the victims died.
He said that most of the victims were herders and farmers that were mostly in the bush and usually at risk.
“When the rains get to the peak, we tend to have more patients because most of the snakes are dislodged from their holes and hiding places by the waters.
“So, when there is flood, it is linked to incidents of snakebites because the flood tends to move the snakes away from their usual habitat and they often go to areas where humans live.”
He said that six deaths had been recorded in October with the rest spread across January to September.
A research officer with the hospital, Abubakar Saidu Balla, confirmed that there was a spike in snakebite cases due to floods.
“Because of the devastating floods, farmlands are wet and the snakes go to higher grounds where they mix with people.
“The situation is worse in riverine areas around Borno, Adamawa, Kogi, Gombe and Bauchi.
“The floods force snakes to migrate or carry them along and deposit them at the forests, homes or over river banks.
“The situation is worsened by the fact that victims cannot go to medical centres to get attention because the roads and bridges are either washed away or flooded.
“In the rural areas, the motorcycles usually help, but they cannot ride through the water now. Very often, victims reach treatment centres dead.”
Balla said that it had become dangerous to go to the farms, especially in Gombe.
Reports from Lokoja in Kogi also indicated that snake attacks had become common with people living in fear.
“We live in fear of snakes, but we thank God that we have not recorded an incident of snakebite,” Usman Agbaje, a resident, told NAN.
He added that travellers plying the Ganaja-Lokoja flooded road had often encountered big snakes while in the boats.