PLEASE SUPPORT OUR LIFE-SAVING RESEARCH
We ask for your support so that we can continue our life-saving efforts.
For donations from regions outside of North America, please use this link
For donations from North America, please use this link, then put in a donation amount, then click to enter the next screen, then select other for destination, and type in "Blood coagulation, cancer and pain research investigating critical human diseases"in the box.
Your donations can help us determine which antivenoms are the best match for snakebite in a particular region. This life-saving basic research is grossly neglected, particularly for effects upon the blood. For an example of our work in this critical area, please click here to download a representative paper
In this paper we examined saw-scaled vipers, which are found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and vast regions of Asia. These snakes kill more people globally each year than almost any other kind of snake, and are treated with antivenoms produced using snakes from different regions.
However, our research has highlighted an urgent public health issue by finding that antivenoms produced using these snakes from one region may perform poorly or fail completely against the same species of snakes from other regions.
This study highlighs the shocking neglect of snakebites by foreign aid efforts of the international community.
We tested the effectiveness of two African and two Indian saw-scaled viper antivenoms against saw-scaled vipers from 10 regions.
The results showed that the two African antivenoms were only effective against snakes from restricted ranges.
One antivenom performed well against West African saw-scaled vipers and the other one was best against the East African saw-scaled vipers.
The Indian antivenoms failed against the Indian saw-scaled viper from a range different to the one used for the antivenom production, and failed completely against African saw-scaled vipers.
In light of these findings, it was concerning that lives may be lost as all four antivenoms were being sold and used interchangeably to treat saw-scaled vipers’ bites.
In African regions where Indian antivenoms had been used, the death rate increased 20-fold.
Envenoming and deaths resulting from snakebite represent an important public health concern as it is estimated that snakebite affects around five million people globally and accounts for more than 100,000 deaths annually.
This is likely to be a dramatic underestimation due to poor or entirely absent data in many regions.
Most severe case of snakebites are attributed to two snake families, elapids and vipers, and among them, saw-scaled or carpet vipers are thought to be responsible for more deaths annually than any other genus.
Snakebites are the most neglected tropical disease in the world, yet antivenom production is decreasing in favour of more profitable projects.
Antivenom is expensive to produce, has a short shelf life and is needed most by those who can afford it the least.
In Africa, the situation was particularly dire, as Africa is the snakebite epicentre of the globe and home to some of the most toxic snakes that thrived in disturbed rural environments.
Saw-scaled vipers’ density in farming regions far exceeds their numbers in natural habitat. Their venom is fast-acting on humans, causing potentially fatal excessive bleeding.
Snake bite is an incredibly socially destabilising force, not only directly due to deaths of primary bread-winners in farming communities, but also the severe permanent injuries to survivors.
Entire family groups may be plunged into poverty. Other medically important destabilising factors are targeted by foreign aid from wealthy countries.
However snakebite is hugely neglected by such foreign aid despite it being the more readily treatable relative to diseases such as HIV-AIDS. For value for money, no other foreign aid measure could have such immediate medical implications while also helping to promote stable, peaceful communities.
We hope that this research would raise awareness of the urgent need for international efforts to address this global crisis.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!