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Understanding Human Wildlife conflicts in rapidly expanding urban complexes: Epidemiological profile of snakebite victims indicates builders are at risk

F. Gbogbo, H. Nunoo


Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease considered a disease of the poor and prevalent among rural farmers. Although focus on snakebites among urban dwellers is generally minimal, the high rates of housing construction that characterize peri-urban zones of developing countries may predispose housing workers to snake-human encounters and bites, therefore creating differences in epidemiological factors underlying snakebites in urban and rural areas. Using demographic characteristic of snakebite victims, we assessed the occupational risk to snakebites in the capital city of Ghana. Farming was not as common among the urban dwellers as building works but the prevalence of snakebites was in the order: farmers (39%) > builders (22%) > Office Workers (5%) > Businessmen (5%) > and unemployed (4%) indicating the few farmers in the city had the highest risk of sustaining snakebites. The frequent work schedule of builders in uncompleted and housing under construction increased their snakebite risk as these areas are good refugia for snakes. The majority (70.8%) of snakebite victims turned to traditional healers although medical facilities were available in the city. Trends in snakebite incidents from the reviewed medical records were unreliable as a result of the low proportion of snakebite victims reporting to medical facilities.


snakebites; builders; venom; traditional healers; housing

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