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Month in Focus: Antivenom serums - In worrying shortage

17 August 2016

It is estimated that up to 100,000 people die every year from snakebites. The most effective anti-venom used in Africa to prevent these deaths is set to run out.

There are 600 different types of venomous snake and their bites produce different symptoms. Not all are fatal but they can lead to complications such as amputation, kidney failure or chronic neurological disorders. Yet it remains an all-too neglected public health issue.

Few anti-venoms adapted for use in developing countries can stop the effects of several multiple types of venom simultaneously. FAV-Afrique however is effective against the venom of at least 10 of the most dangerous snakes found in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is used extensively by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams in the field.