WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A 60-year-old man was out picking mangoes when he was bitten by a black mamba.
- He was rushed to a provincial hospital but they had no antivenom to treat him.
- As medical staff were preparing to transport him to a larger facility that had antivenom, the man passed away.
A 60-year-old man in Zimbabwe passed away from a black mamba bite after he was taken to a hospital that had no available antivenom.
Peter Dube was a farmer who formerly worked at a newspaper office. Last December, he was out on his orchard picking mangoes when a black mamba struck and bit him.
Dube was then rushed to the Gwanda Provincial Hospital, but they had no available antivenom to treat him there.
The hospital staff prepared to transport him to a larger facility that had antivenom in stock, but it was still approximately 60 miles away. Dube tragically passed away while waiting.
According to his obituary quoted by The Sunday Mail, “He’s survived by his spouse and three sons and his proud family of the Huyabe Clan.”
The black mamba, an extremely venomous species of snake, is among Africa’s most deadly snakes. Its bite has a fatality rate of 100 percent if left untreated.
According to provincial medical officer Dr. Rudo Chikodzore, there is available antivenom in Matabeleland South, where Gwanda is located.
However, “Quantities in the province are usually based on consumption estimates from previous years of the same time to ensure that stock does not expire on us,” he told The Sunday Mail.
Andreas Hougaard Laustsen-Kiel, a professor of Antibody Technologies at the Technical University of Denmark, told Newsweek that the time it takes for a black mamba bite to kill someone depends on the size of the person bitten, where on the body they were bitten, and how much venom was injected.
“That being said, the venom is very fast acting,” he noted. “And to my understanding it will typically be between a few hours and within a day.”
Despite being deadly, the black mamba is generally shy and avoids people as much as possible. It does not actively hunt humans as prey since we are too big to swallow, says Hougaard Laustsen-Kiel, but it will bite when threatened — such as when a human gets too close, steps on it, or grabs it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), snake bites are among the top Neglected Tropical Diseases. Each year, between 80,000 and 130,000 people die from snake bites. There are even higher figures for those left disabled due to their exposure to poison or toxins from a bite or sting. The most affected countries are in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The WHO aims to cut these figures in half by 2030.