Taita Taveta County mops up 'ineffective' Indian snake anti-venom

 Scientific studies revealed that the drug was no longer effective in treating snake bites. [iStockphoto]

Health inspectors in Taita Taveta have started to collect snake anti-venom from India after the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority recalled it due to ineffectiveness.

According to Health Executive Gifton Mkaya, Kemsa issued an advisory to 47 counties yesterday after scientific studies revealed that the drug was no longer effective in treating snake bites.

"We also looked at the Indian study, which showed that the drug had become ineffective in treating snake bites from the most lethal species," he added.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases by scientists from India's IISc's Evolutionary Venomics Lab and herpetologists Gerard Martin and Romulus Whitaker.

"The current anti-venoms are completely ineffective. "Many other conditions, such as serum sickness or fatal anaphylaxis, can occur if large amounts of antivenom are administered," according to the study.

Mkaya yesterday said the county government had removed all India snake antivenom from its stores in response to the Kemsa directive, which made the county more vulnerable.

He said the county is one of the hardest hit by persistent human-wildlife conflict, citing rising snake bites from the vast Tsavo national park and sisal estates, which are home to dangerous reptiles and other wild animals.

"The antivenom sold in the market from India claims it cannot effectively treat dangerous snake bite victims and eliminate secondary side effects," Mkaya said.

According to the CEC, one of the recent incidents involved a primary school student from the Kishushe location in Taita Sub-County narrowly surviving a snake bite.

He said the snake bite victim was rushed to a Mombasa hospital and survived. "At the moment, the county with the highest number of snake bites has no snake antivenom," Mkaya said.

Residents in lowland areas have traditionally relied on traditional herbalists for survival.

Meanwhile, residents have been outspoken in their opposition to Parliament's decision to phase out compensation for snake bites.

According to John Mlamba, the immediate former chairman of the Wildlife Compensation Committee, they have already petitioned Parliament to reverse the 2017 decision.

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