Classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a neglected tropical disease, snake bites are prevalent in areas with limited access to hospitals and medicines, such as rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and India.
This information is in the study “Drought, desertification and poverty: A geospatial analysis of snakebite envenoming in the Caatinga biome of Brazil” (Drought, desertification and poverty: a geospatial analysis of snakebite poisoning in the Caatinga biome in Brazil), published in international magazine The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, focused on public and collective health issues.
In Ceará, municipalities such as Tauá, Viçosa do Ceará and Tiaguá are the most affected in number of accidents per year. Accidents begin to increase in January, continuing to increase until July, the month with the highest incidence of snakebite-related illnesses in Ceará. There is a reduction in the number of cases between August and December.
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According to the Cearense Meteorology Foundation (Funceme), Ceará is suffering, throughout its territory, with the desertification process. This environmental reaction makes the increase in cases of accidents with snake bites, the snakebite accidents, more favorable.
According to the Notifiable Diseases Information System (SINAN), more than 13 thousand occurrences with snake bites have been registered since 2001 in the state, an important fact to classify snakebites as a public health problem. “It is necessary to reiterate that snakebite accidents affect millions of people, especially poor populations living in rural areas, generally far from urban centers,” comments Thiago Jucá, biologist and lead author of the study.
He also emphasizes that the public health sectors must be aware of snakebite accidents, in order to provide easy access to specialized treatments to control the disease among the poorest populations. “These people depend on the Public Power and, consequently, on public health services, otherwise these populations would be left to their own devices”, completes Thiago.
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“People poisoned by venomous snakes usually seek public health services in the municipality. The problem is that these municipal health units often do not have antivenoms for basic care, which makes patients look for health units in neighboring cities.” explains Thiago.
According to the study, one of the ways to promote the control of accidents with snake bites is to expand the areas of environmental protection, in addition to encouraging actions to combat desertification.
In the area of public health care, the Unified Health System (SUS) offers anti-venom treatment, another reason why the system should be valued, according to Thiago.
“Serotherapy, as long as it is used properly and quickly, is the most effective way to neutralize the venom of the snake that caused the accident. Therefore, it is essential to make these antivenoms available in sufficient quantity and in the appropriate places – ideally, health units in all municipalities would have antivenoms – in order to reduce the time between the accident and medical care.” concludes the researcher.
Source: BoF Ceará
Edition: Monyse Ravenna