The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, says snakes kill 2,000 Nigerians annually.
According to the junior health minister, Nigeria records an average of 15,000 to 20,000 cases of snakebite every year, revealing that about 2,000 people are killed, and at least 1,700 people have their legs or arms amputated after snakebite.
Mr Mamora disclosed this on Monday at a ministerial press briefing marking the 2021 International Snakebite Awareness Day (ISBAD) in Abuja.
Since 2018, ISBAD has been commemorated on September 19, representing an opportunity for Nigerians to raise awareness of one of the world’s biggest hidden health crises.
Each year, approximately 5.4 million people are bitten by a snake globally, of whom 2.7 million are injected with venom.
Snakebite poisoning, known as envenomation, has long been a public health problem in Nigeria, especially in rural areas.
According to Mr Mamora, Nigeria has three main types of snake species responsible for envenomation.
“The cobra or Naja nigricollis, the puff adder or Bitis arietans and the carpet viper or Echis ocellatus. Snakebite affects the lives of many people, and most of the victims are rural women, children, peasant farmers, herdsmen and hunters,” he stated.
The health minister stated that “a most recent survey, conducted in 2013 by Habib et al.,” showed that snakebites in Nigeria occurred at 497 cases per 100,000 people.
The carpet viper is responsible for about 90 per cent of bites and 60 per cent of snakebite deaths.
“The cases increased recently because of excessive rainfall, leading to more morbidity and deaths connected with inadequate quantities of anti-snake-venom,” added Mr Mamora. “States with the most cases of snakebites in Nigeria are Gombe, Plateau, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Nasarawa, Enugu, Kogi, Kebbi, Oyo, Benue and Taraba.”