About 2,000 people die from snakebites in Nigeria annually

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ABUJA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- A senior health official has said about 2,000 people are killed by snakebites every year in Nigeria, calling for increased awareness of one of the world's biggest hidden health crises.

In a statement issued Tuesday to commemorate the just-ended International Snakebite Awareness Day, Olorunnimbe Mamora, Nigeria's minister of State for Health, said between 1,700 and 2,000 people also have one leg or arm amputated to save their lives following a snakebite in the country every year.

Mamora said Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, records an average of 15,000 to 20,000 cases of snakebite every year.

Envenomation, also known as the injection of venom usually from snake bites, has long been a public health problem in Nigeria, especially in rural areas, the minister said, noting the country has three main types of snake species responsible for that.

"The cobra or Naja nigricollis, the puff adder or Bitis arietans, and the carpet viper or Echis ocellatus are the notable species in Nigeria," he said, adding the carpet viper is the one responsible for about 90 percent of bites and 60 percent of snakebite deaths.

The official further noted snakebite affects the lives of many people in the country and most of the victims are rural women, children, peasant farmers, herdsmen, and hunters.

In Nigeria, snakebites occur mainly during planting and harvest seasons, when people go about their work on the farm or in bushes, Mamora said.

"The cases increased recently because of excessive rainfall, leading to more morbidity and deaths connected with inadequate quantities of anti-snake-venom," he added. Enditem

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