Tuesday 31 January 2023

Caja hospitals treat up to five people per week with snake bites

Antivenom serum is the only effective treatment

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QCOSTARICA – The hospitals of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) treat up to five people each week for snake bites.

According to the Caja’s registry, this type of emergency occurs more frequently in rural areas.

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The largest number of cases of poisoning is due to bites of the “toboba” snakes – an arboreal snake that is found only in Costa Rica from the northern and central portions of the Cordillera de Talamanca, in the provinces of San Jose, Cartago, and Limon.

The Toboba Costarricense is small in size (length 60cm), with a slender to moderately robust body, large and wide head, and well-differentiated from the neck. It has a pair of elongated internasal scales.

Carlos Argüello, head of emergencies at the Escalante Pradilla hospital, explained that most of them occur during the rainy season, when agricultural activities increase.

Argüello detailed that antivenom is the only effective treatment for snakebite poisoning.

In our country, 50% of bites occur on the feet, 30% on the hands or arms, and a smaller percentage on the head.

The fight against snakes in Costa Rica dates back to the early years of the 20th century, with the pioneering work of Dr. Clodomiro Picado Twight.

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In Costa Rica, institutions such as the Clodomiro Picado Institute, the University of Costa Rica, the Ministry of Health and other national organizations have worked for several decades in the study of snakebite poisoning, in the search for solutions to it, with the goal of reducing its impact.

The following link to the Clodomiro Picado Institute of the University of Costa Rica details the most venomous snakes in Costa Rica.

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