Australian scientists, working with counterparts in Myanmar, are hoping to reduce Myanmar's high death toll from snake bites in rural communities, especially among vulnerable populations facing inadequate emergency care.
The official toll from snake bites in Myanmar is 600 deaths a year out of some 13,000 cases among a rural population dependent on rice harvesting for a living. But rice paddy fields and rice stacks lure rats and mice, and in turn draw snakes, the most venomous being the Russell’s vipers and cobras.
But the hopes for survival are often challenged by long distances from emergency care, with poor roads and infrastructure between snake bite victims and life-saving medical treatment.
Chen Au Peh, a renal specialist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia, said speedy access to emergency medical treatment is crucial.
“So all these factors accumulate to a long delay between bite and administration of an anti-venom. So to help them, we have to help them produce more anti-venom, to get the anti-venom to where it's required to help them keep the anti-venom in the refrigerator and to help the health professionals,” Peh said.