Snake antivenom: the where, when, how and cost

Anybody can be bitten by a poisonous snake but snake antivenom seems scarce and difficult to get in Nigeria. Many Nigerians do not know where to get the poisonous snake antidote or have no idea about the price/cost.

In this article, I will give you the information I got from the interview I had with different pharmacist, doctors,  and pharmacy shops on the where,  how, when and cost of snake anti venom in Nigeria.

History of snake antivenom

According  to ZMESCIENCE,  Bill Haast, a famous snake handler who died at age 100, was known for milking up to 100 snakes a day. You can imagine that, at this rate, he would get bitten often. Realizing this, in 1948 he began injecting himself with increasing doses of diluted cobra venom in order to develop his own immune resistance. By the time he died — of natural causes, we should add — Haast had survived 172 bites from many of the world’s deadliest snakes, including a blue krait, a king cobra, and a Pakistani pit viper. He even flew around the world and donated his blood for direct transfusion, thus saving 21 victims.

Some basic facts about a snake antidote

  1. Bite by venomous or poisonous snakes is characterized by severe muscle pain, low blood pressure, excessive bleeding, kidney damage, swelling, brain injury,  and severe allergic reactions
  2. Types of snake antivenom include EchiTAB G for the treatment of bites from carpet vipers, and EchiTAB Plus for venom from carpet viper, Puff Adder and Black Cobra.
  3. It could be polyvalent or monovalent
  4. The anti venom is scarce and in limited supply in Nigeria.
  5. Statistics of snake bites obtained from some medical centres across the country indeed show a steady rise, with the Kaltungo General Hospital, Gombe, for instance recording an average of 16 to 20 cases everyday.
  6. Records from the hospital showed that between 2005 and 2010, a total of 12,398 snake bites were reported, with 55 deaths recorded. Many of the victims were from Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba and Adamawa States.

How- when to give snake antivenom

For best results, antivenom should be given as soon as possible after the bite. It is usually given within the first 4 hours after the snakebite and may be effective for 2 weeks or more after the bite.

Where to get snake antivenom in Nigeria.

You can get the antivenom in various snake bite treatment centres in Nigeria located especially in Northern Nigeria-Gombe and Taraba states which have the highest number of poisonous snakes in the country. The centres are:

  • Kaltungo General Hospital, Gombe.
  • Zamko Comprehensive Health Centre in Langtang, Plateau State.
  • St. Theresa Snake Treatment Centre in Makurdi, Benue.
  • Ali Mega Pharmacy, Gombe
  • Shendam General Hospital, Plateau
  • Gyrok General Hospital, Gyrok.
  • Jos University Teaching Hospital
  • All Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres in Nigeria.

Some big pharmacies in Nigeria also stock the snake anti-venom.  For example, in Benin city, you can get the antivenom at Flowell,  Ladith,  Oscar Jay, Airen, and Elint Pharmacies.

In Lagos,  check Alpha Pharmacy in Ikeja or Serge, Barbados,  and Healthplus pharmacies. If they don’t have tell them to make an order for you.

In Abuja, check Tonia,  Pharmgate and Marbo Pharmacies. Alpha pharmacy also has a branch in Abuja.

Side effects of snake antivenom

Side effects from antivenom can include rash, itching, wheezing, rapid heart rate, fever, and body aches.

Cost

Most articles I have read on the Punch,  Guardian and Premium Times have quoted the price of snake anti venom to be between #27,000 to #30,000 Naira. However, a call I put across to several pharmacy shops across Nigeria quoted their prices to between #8,000 to #18,000.  Please do ensure you buy from a reputable pharmacy to avoid buying fake.

Check how to get the anti-rabies vaccine for dogbite here.

Sources:

 

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