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Public warning! – Increase in puff adder bites

By Phephile Motau

The Eswatini Antivenom Foundation has sent out a warning for people to be careful as they have seen an escalation in puff adder bites the past few days.

The Founder, Thea Litschka-koen said the reason for this was that female puff adders give birth around this time. Snake season in the country runs from September to May.

She said in the past 14 days, seven puff adder bites had been reported. Litschka-Koen previously reported that puff adders were a cytotoxic snake and 80 per cent of the cases led to significant skin and tissue damage and people took a long time to recover. She added that a person bitten by puff adder can spend up to three months in a medical facility.

Litschka-Koen from September 1 to February 1, 228 snakebites had been reported to them. She said she was not sure if there were any more snakebites, but these were those on their records. She added that five people lost their lives due to snakebites.

Litschka-Koen said one of the deaths was from a puff adder, which was rather unusual. She said this was a two-year-old child who was bitten whilst fetching wood with her grandmother.

She also said the child took 3.5 hours to get to a medical facility and while being treated, her heart stopped. Litschka-Koen said the most snakebites this season had come from black mambas, puff adders, Mozambican spitting cobras, and stiletto snakes.

She warned people to be vigilant when walking at night or early morning. She said those farming or working in gardens should use forks or spades and avoid using their hands as much as possible.

“If there is a bite from a Puff adder, do not tie the bitten limb. Go straight to the nearest Health Centre or Hospital,” Litschka-Koen said.

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