New Era (Windhoek)

15 January 2013

Namibia: Snakes Torment Tsandi Community

Tsandi — Residents of the Tsandi Constituency have appealed to the department of nature conservation to help them ward off the scourge of zebra snakes in the area, which are said to have bitten at least 11 people so far, some of them inside their houses.Concerned residents say their neigbourhood and immediate vicinity is swarming with zebra snakes. Registered nurse Salmi Shaanika said about 11 people were treated in the Tsandi hospital for zebra snake bites.

"These people were treated with anti-serum from November 6 until December 25 and they were mainly from the Uukwaluudhi area," she said. Zebra snakes have always been a problem and are very common in Namibia.

It would appear that they are attracted to and thrive in densely populated areas, both urban and rural, when it is very hot and humid. It is quick to bite and unlike that of other snakes, its venom is highly cytotoxic.

The polyvalent anti-venom that is available is inefective in the treatment of a zebra snake bite. The current recommended medical treatment is radical excision around the site of the bite of which severe disfigurement and amputation is a common outcome. Overall treatment is expensive and often extends over a year.

Shaanika said fortunately there have been no fatalities so far. One resident told New Era that the zebra snake invasion is costing her dearly and that she is losing at least one chicken per day.

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