The guidelines discuss snakes, snake venoms and snakebites and their
consequences with emphasis on the medically important snakes i.e. those causing serious envenoming. The
volume contains over a hundred snake photographs, clinical signs of envenoming and the consequences.
The guidelines also feature various annexes and in particular the geographical distribution of
African venomous snakes, as well as their classification, habitats and clinical toxinology.
The document is divided into fifteen chapters. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 introduce the
subject, outline the morphological characteristics of African venomous snakes, present the
distribution of African venomous snakes and provide epidemiological data on snakebite. Chapter 4 is
specifically devoted to prevention of snakebite. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 discuss snake venoms as well as
clinical features and profiles of envenoming by some snakes of medical importance. Chapters 8 and 9
outline the main clinical syndromes of envenoming in Africa and provide guidance to clinical
assessment and diagnosis. Chapter 10 provides information on antivenoms and major suppliers of
antivenoms. Chapters 11 and 12 discuss first aid and emergency clinical management of
snakebite. Chapters 13, 14 and 15 discuss procedures for antivenom treatment and management of snakebite
at community level and different health-care facilities as well as ancillary treatments.
The guidelines are designed to provide useful information and guide the work of
various levels of health workers in dealing with snakes and snakebite. Some sections provide
useful and easily understood information for the general public on topics such as snake
characteristics and distribution, prevention of snakebite, first aid in case of snakebite, easily
observable venom effects in a snakebite victim, and what not to do in case of snakebite.
The guidelines also mention traditional practices and beliefs in relation to
snakes and snakebite. They emphasize the fact that there are no scientifically proven traditional antidotes
to snake venoms. However, in many rural settings, traditional healers may have a good knowledge
of snakes within their environment and they can be useful resource persons in the conduct of
community education programmes about snakes and snakebite...