Snakebites: Like having my hand smashed by a hammer’

The bites are a “hidden” health crisis causing a death every four minutes, says World Health Organization
SnakeImage copyrightWorld Health Organization

David Williams has been bitten by a snake six times.

“The first time was pretty terrifying because I didn’t know what to expect. It felt like having my hand smashed with a hammer,” he says.

“My last snakebite would have been a fatal one, but for the fact we were carrying an emergency medical kit so we could do something about it.”

Dr Williams, an expert on snakebites at the World Health Organization (WHO) – who travels the world collecting snake venoms to help develop new treatments – says most victims “don’t have that life-saving luxury”.

The WHO calls snakebites “arguably the world’s biggest hidden health crisis”, with one person dying from a bite every four minutes. Hundreds of thousands of others are left seriously disfigured, with many needing amputations.