A Snake Curator in Baringo County Mr. Willy Limo has cautioned residents to be extra careful during this dry season to avoid rampant snake bites.
Limo who spoke to KNA urged residents to be on high alert and ensure their environment is clean and clear bushes to avoid any snakes hiding in their houses hence biting them which may lead to death.
“Venomous snakes found in the semi-arid areas of the county have for long caused many deaths. I want to urge residents of Baringo to be extra careful and avoid sharing rooms with poultry animals as the snakes hide there,” said Limo.
Limo noted with concern that majority of the families in the rural set up keep poultry in their houses which he warns them to desist from, as they attract the wild snakes.
A dirty environment, he added, was the breeding grounds for rodents that snakes feed on thus residents were told to keep their homes clean and clear bushes nearby in order to avert the risks of snake attacks.
“In terms of distribution, snakes such as black mambas, puff adders and cobras are prevalent in the arid parts of the county and are the leading cause of injuries and deaths,” Limo added.
The expert said majority of residents lacked adequate information on snakes and encouraged them to visit the park so as to get the important information on how to keep away the dangerous snakes from human habitats.
Dr. Winnie Bore of Snabirc Kenya, an NGO based in the region that aims to reduce deaths and disabilities due to snake bites and snake attacks emphasized that residents ought to be vigilant during this dry season as the snakes were rampant as they looked for water.
She also noted that the snake bites statistics have increased in the recent past because human beings have inhabited their natural habitats creating human-wildlife conflicts hence the need for creating awareness to avert further loss of lives.
“According to statistics from the district health information systems (DHIS 2), Baringo County has reported 254 cases of snake bites since the beginning of this year but the figure is estimated to be higher as some residents seek alternative treatment while others do not and they end up losing their lives,” Bore said.
Bore added that 50 percent of the reported cases are from areas of Tiaty and Baringo South Sub-counties as they are prone to the attacks because of the arid and semi-arid conditions but also noted with concern that the statistics may be higher than the reported cases.
In her remarks, Bore said that the level of awareness on handling a snake bite victim was low as most people do not know what to do after a snake bite and more needed to be done to create awareness.
Dr. Lourien Kakuko a medical officer at the Baringo County Referral Hospital told KNA that they receive victims with serious snake bites at the facility after they have received first aid from dispensaries and health centres and are admitted for treatment but sometimes the severity is too much and some victims end up being amputated or losing their lives.
“Delay in care is a major cause of deaths after a snake attack since the anti-venom is available at the referral hospital but I want to urge residents of Baringo to rush to the nearest facility after an attack to reduce deaths and disabilities,” Kakuko said.
Victims of snake bites, he said, come to the facility mostly after a week of being bitten and trying to self-medicate and when they get to the facility they are administered with anti-venom, painkillers and antibiotics to treat the wounds and admitted for further observation.
The medic has however challenged the National Government to introduce snake bite treatment education in medical school in order for medical staff to have adequate knowledge on how to handle victims of attack.
He also cautioned residents that when one sees a snake, they should not try to kill it or throw stones at it and in the process get bitten, but instead let it go to ensure personal safety but most importantly, they should visit a medical facility if attacked.
Kakuko has on the other hand called on the National Government together with the county government to work together to sensitize residents on first aid after an attack which involves tying above the bite tightly and avoiding movement and also sensitize them on how to handle snakes since most times people’s behaviour causes the snakes to attack them.
Samson Krop aged 19, an orphan from Silale ward in Tiaty Sub-County is one of the survivors of a venomous snake bite that happened five years ago. He however has not received compensation nor proper medication due to poverty and lack of information.
“Krop is an orphan. I took him in as soon as his parents passed on. He was bitten by a venomous snake on his right leg upon completion of his primary studies. He has since then been disabled and going blind on one eye,” narrated Daniel Lakitari.
Lakitari who is their neighbour said that it is so hard to access a health facility due to the nature of the terrain adding that it is also tedious when doing a follow up on getting government compensation.
When asked whether he has registered the survivor with the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPWDs) in order to receive help, Lakitari claimed they did not have any information on it.
By Caroline Cherono