By Marie-Therese Nanlong
JOS—Many children, aged between seven and 10 years, are currently being treated for snake bites in rabbit holes at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, JUTH, Comprehensive Health Centre, Zamko, Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The hospital’s medical officer, Dr. Nyam Azi, said that 280 victims were received from November 2016, with that month accounting for the highest figure of 210.
He added that 25 cases were received in the last three weeks, but one person had died because his case was presented too late, stressing that the children go in search of rats and get bitten by snakes when they dip their fingers into rat holes.
He said: “For the adults, the situation was worse during the harvest season because people went to the farms without putting on boots and gloves. The hospital is struggling to cope though the Federal Government had provided 100 vials of anti-snake venom.
“We get lots of cases and the vials given by government are not sufficient; during the hot season, the 100 vials can be exhausted in five days. A vial of anti-snake venom costs N27,000 and many victims, who could not afford that amount, usually seek alternative treatments.
“Some go to native doctors leading to high mortality; many people just die at home. We have challenged them to do the economic arithmetic; a rat is not worth N27,000. It costs just about N50 to N70.
“We have also advised them to stop moving around at night; where they must, they should use torch lights and try to avoid snakes’ possible habitats.”
He advised people in affected areas to rear pigs and ducks because they are sources of biological control of snakes.
“The two are natural preda-tors that eat snakes and deplete their population,” he added.