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Review Article: Snake Envenomation in Africa

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Abstract

Purpose of Review

In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated snakebite envenoming (SBE) as a category A neglected tropical disease (NTD). This review aims to highlight clinical syndromes of envenomation, gaps in current knowledge, and provide updates on advancements in treatments for snakebites in Africa.

Recent Findings

While antivenoms are the mainstay of treatment, many marketed in Africa are ineffective and potentially dangerous, though newer antivenoms on the market are effective with low rates of adverse reactions. Key treatment adjuncts such as airway devices and medications may improve mortality and patient comfort. Previously, long-held recommendations need reevaluation and are likely unnecessary.

Summary

With the new designation, an active WHO working group, and several independent groups focusing on a multidisciplinary approach to improve key gaps in knowledge and apply new treatment modalities, we can greatly decrease the morbidity and mortality associated with snakebite in Africa.

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Correspondence to Jordan Max Benjamin.

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Benjamin, J.M., Abo, B.N. & Brandehoff, N. Review Article: Snake Envenomation in Africa. Curr Trop Med Rep (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40475-020-00198-y

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Keywords

  • Snakebite
  • Snakebite envenoming
  • Africa
  • Envenomations
  • Antivenom
  • Neglected tropical diseases