This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
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bite an estimated five and a half million people worldwide each year. Experts
say tens of thousands of people die from venom poisoning.
An untreated or incorrectly treated bite might require
the removal of a bitten foot, for example, or an arm. Each year around four
hundred thousand amputations are the result of snakebites.
year, for the first time, the World Health Organization added snakebites to its
list of "neglected tropical diseases." This recognition aims to bring
greater attention to the problem.
know of about three thousand kinds of snakes. About six hundred of them are
venomous. These are most often found in rural areas in tropical climates.
and Africa have the highest number of snakebites -- together about four million
a year. Latin America and islands in the South Pacific follow.
The highest number of victims are agricultural workers.
Snakebites are also common among fishermen, hunters and children. Many victims
live in areas with poor or non-existent health care systems and where antivenom
treatments are often not available.
Antivenom is the only cure. But experts say antivenom
technologies and their use need to be improved. Problems include a shortage of
manufacturers and the high cost of treatment.
there is a widespread lack of knowledge among local health workers about how to
use antivenoms. The treatments can cause dangerous and even deadly reactions if
not used carefully.
contains proteins from animals such as horses or sheep. The animals are
injected repeatedly with one or more different snake venoms to produce
immunity.The Lancet medical journal recently published a series
of reports on snakebite prevention and treatment. David Warrell at the
University of Oxford in England co-wrote one of them. He praised efforts by the
W.H.O. to establish common practices for the production, regulation and control
of antivenom. But he says more must be done.
The authors say community
education programs could help prevent snakebites by teaching people how to
avoid them. They also suggest actions like providing protective boots to wear
while working in fields, and not sleeping on the ground.
important is providing information about where dangerous snakes are most likely
to live and when they are most active.
that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. MP3s,
transcripts and broadcasts of our reports are available at
voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Christopher Cruise.