Snake bite is a worldwide environmental and occupational hazard with significant public health importance. The management of snake bites includes the use of specific anti-venom, use of clotting factors and tetanus prophylaxis. In many developing countries however, specific anti-venoms are not widely available and this might affect the outcome of patient management. The main objective of this work is to analyze the clinical presentation, management and outcome of snake bite patients a resource-challenged environment like ours. The study is a cross-sectional retrospective review of medical records of all patients admitted with snake bite to the male and female medical wards of the Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, Nigeria from 1st January, 2009 till the end of June 2010. Information retrieved for the purpose of this study include patients’ bio data, affected part of the body, summary of presenting complaints, mode and outcome of management. A sum total of six hundred and sixty-six patients were admitted to the medical wards of the hospital during the period in question out of which fifteen cases (2.25%) of snake bite were recorded. Eleven patients (73.3%) were male and the mean age was 34.3 ± 1.9 years. The most common presenting feature was local swelling (100%), followed by bleeding from the site of envenomation (50%) while four (33%) patients had haematuria. Snake antivenom was administered in eleven patients (91.7%) while five patients had whole blood transfused. No mortality was recorded among the patients admitted with snake bite. The management of snake bite in Nigeria is hampered by unavailability of specific antivenom and other supportive measures like clotting factors and cryoprecipitate. There is a need to make effective and safe antivenoms available and affordable to improve patients’ outcome. This work has shown however that it is possible to have good outcomes despite the many challenges encountered by health care personnel.
Key words: Snake bite, management, antivenom, resource-challenged environment.
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