By Olusola Adeoye
An average of 20,000 cases of snake bites are recorded in Nigeria annually, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has said.
He spoke yesterday in Abuja during the maiden commemoration of the International Snakebite Awareness Day in the country.
He said Nigeria was among the countries worst affected by snake bites and it occurs predominantly in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Nasarawa, Plateau, Enugu, Kogi, Kebbi, Oyo, Benue and Taraba states.
He said the country also records 2,000 deaths , and about 1,700 to 2,000 amputations because of snake bites annually.
The minister said snake bite envenomation was a public health problem in Nigeria caused mainly by three species of snakes-the Naja nigricolis (cobra), Bitis arietans (puff adder) and Echis ocellatus (carpet viper).
“It affects the lives of many people where most of the victims are rural women, children, peasant farmers, herdsmen and hunters. The estimated incidence of snake bites in Nigeria is 174 /1000 according to a survey conducted in 1994 by the Federal Ministry of Health. The carpet viper is responsible for 90% of bites and 60% of deaths,” he said.