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Traditional remedies and other characteristics among human snakebite survivors in Baringo county, Kenya, 2010–2020: a case series


Background Seeking traditional remedies following snakebites leads to avoidable deaths in rural settings in developing countries. Methods In this case series study, we identified and recruited 169 snakebite survivors in Baringo county, a hard-to-reach region in northwestern Kenya, who experienced snakebites from 2010 to 2020 using a snowballing technique. We explored associations between traditional and hospital care in managing snakebites and other characteristics. χ2 tests assessed these categorical differences. Results Fifty-four (33%) of the survivors used traditional remedies to manage snakebites. The majority (56%) were men and aged >18 y (72%); 59% had low education levels and income. They sourced water from rivers or lakes (93%) and used charcoal as an energy source (74%). These survivors (>67%) resided in households practicing free-range and stall-feeding animal husbandry systems and in houses with thatch roofing or an earthen floor structure. Also, >62% reported muscle tremors, fever and chills, while 80% visited health facilities for further treatment. Conclusion Community sensitization covering the risks of non-effective remedies and escalation of training to traditional healers could improve the speed of referrals in hard-to-reach snakebite hotspots. Medical anthropology studies could explore the enablers of continued use of traditional remedies in snakebite management in rural communities.

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Journal Article
Kung'u PN
Chweya RN
Gachohi JM