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May 06, 2010

WHO launches website on snake bite

The World Health Organization(WHO) says it hopes its new online database of poisonous snakes & available antidotes to their venom will help reduce the estimated 100,000 deaths a year worldwide caused by snake bites.
WHO snake website logoBites by venomous snakes can cause paralysis that may prevent breathing; bleeding disorders that can lead to fatal hemorrhage; irreversible kidney failure; & severe tissue damage that can cause permanent disability & may result in limb amputation, the UN health agency said. Antivenoms are antidotes against the venom that can prevent death & disability.

"Many countries 've no access to the antivenoms they need," Carissa Etienne, WHO assistant director-general. said in a news release Tuesday. "Others use antivenoms that 've never been tested against their target snake venoms. So, often, when people get bitten, they can't get the treatment they need."

Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia & Southeast Asia are most in need, said Ana Padilla, a snake venom expert at WHO.The WHO's new illustrated online database allows users to identify poisonous snakes where they live & find out about available antivenom products in their area.The WHO hopes the database will help public health authorities build up antivenom stocks in the right areas.

Most snake bite deaths & other consequences, such as paralysis or amputation, are preventable if the proper antivenom is administered in time, said WHO's co-ordinator for medicine safety, Dr. Lembit Rago.

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