Lamu woman dies from snakebite

She was working on a farm at Bargoni, Lamu East, when she was bitten.

In Summary
  • She was rushed to the Bargoni and Hindi dispensaries but was turned away as the facilities had no antivenom.
  • By the time she was taken to the King Fahad hospital on Lamu Island, the venom had spread to vital organs and doctors were unable to save her.

A Lamu woman on Sunday died from a snake bite after she was unable to get the antivenom medication from medical facilities. 

Sanita Kitsao, 31, was bitten at around 10am as she worked on a farm in Bargoni village. She was rushed to the Bargoni and Hindi dispensaries but was turned away as the facilities had no medication for snakebites.

By the time she was taken to King Fahad Hospital on Lamu Island at 4pm, about 60km away, the venom had spread to vital organs and doctors were unable to save her. They administered the antivenom drug but it was too late.

Esinino Madobe, Sanita's neighbour who rushed her to hospital, said the young mother would have lived if the first facilities could help.

"A lot of time was wasted moving from one dispensary to another. Both the Bargoni and Hindi dispensaries didn’t have antivenom. By the time we were crossing over to King Fahad Hospital, we could clearly see her changing. The doctors were quick to administer the medication but she died anyway. They said the venom had spread all over," Madobe said.

Lamu county chief officer for Medical Services Mohamed Kombo suspected the woman was bitten by a Cobra or Green Mamba, which are highly poisonous.

 “By the time the woman was brought to King Fahad Hospital, she was vomiting heavily and the bitten leg was really swollen, an indication the snake that bit her was highly poisonous. I urge locals to ensure anyone bitten by a snake is rushed to hospital in the shortest time possible. It’s unfortunate that we lost the patient because the poison had spread,” he said.

Kombo said there are plans to adequately stock all dispensaries and health facilities with antivenene. He, however, added that the biggest challenge is the storage as the medication requires refrigeration and other elaborate protection measures.

Kombo said it’s important for people to try and identify the kind of snakes that bite them so as to make it easy to identify the necessary antivenom to administer fast.

"These drugs require elaborate storage measures so they don’t fail to work when administered. We have distributed to Mokowe dispensaries and the rest will follow."

Residents have criticised the county government for building dispensaries and failing to equip them. The lack of antivenoms continued to cause untold suffering and deaths, which are preventable.

Ali Gubo urged the government to not only put up buildings in the name of dispensaries but also ensure the necessary equipment and drugs are present. Gubo is a Boni elder and lives in Bargoni village where snakebites are rampant.

He said residents from terror-prone areas of Bargoni, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Basuba rely on KDF medical facilities and camps to get help.

“Otherwise, apart from the KDF medical facilities and services, we don’t have any other help. The few health facilities that are open don’t have personnel and lack drugs. They are just empty buildings,” Gubo said.

(Edited by F'Orieny)