Prevalence of Snakebites and Use of Antivenom Plants in Southern Sierra Leone
In a retrospective study conducted to determine the prevalence of snakebites in villages neighboring a university hospital in southern Sierra Leone, a total of 66 (4.71±2.52) victims reported having been bitten by snakes in 11 out of 14 villages surveyed. More female (2.57±1.38) than male (2.14±1.14) victims were reported, but the difference between the mean number of female and male victims bitten by snakes was not statistically significant (t-test; P>0.05). No fatality was reported during the period studied. Only 3 cases of snakebites were recorded by the hospital during the same period, and nearly all victims reported having sought treatment from herbalists despite the close proximity to the hospital. Herbalists indicated utilizing 18 species of plants as anti-venoms, of which Alchornea cordifolia (Schum & Thonn) Muell. Arg., Gouania longipetala Hemsl., Cnestis ferruginea DC, Rauvolfia vomitoria Afz, Elaeis guineensis Jacq., Microdesmis keayana J. Leonard and Sterculia tragacantha Lindl, have also been recorded as anti-venom plants in other countries. Future studies should examine the extent of snakebite in other parts of the country and assess the socio-economic implications on victims and their families.