Africa: Cheap Nasal Spray May Save Snakebite Victims

Friday, July 18, 2014

Curitiba — Snakebites are a highly neglected health problem despite causing up to 84,000 deaths a year globally – but a novel, nasal spray-based approach may help reduce the toll, according to researchers.

Currently, snakebites are treated using antivenoms designed to treat the most common deadly snakebites, which are often expensive and not always effective if not given quickly after a bite.

In addition, they do not work against the bites of all venomous snake species – something that may be hard to overcome because of the different ways snakes produce venom.

But a new approach to treating snakebites in the field soon after they occur has been tested in laboratory, and its creators believe it holds hope.

A team of researchers, led by Matthew Lewin, from the California Academy of Sciences, United States, and Stephen Samuel, from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, says a simple nasal spray containing a substance called neostigmine can reduce snakebite fatalities.

“It would be one ingredient primarily directed against rapid onset paralysis – one of the causes of fast death following snakebite,” Lewin tells SciDev.Net. “It is inexpensive and available everywhere in the world.”

Source: AllAfrica (link opens in a new window)

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