Epidemiological and clinical aspects of snakebites in the upper Juruá River region, western Brazilian Amazonia
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ABSTRACT This study addresses the clinical and epidemiological aspects of envenoming cases resulting from snakebites treated at a hospital in Cruzeiro do Sul, in the upper Juruá River region, western Brazilian Amazonia. The specific identity of snakes that caused the envenomings was inferred (a) from the diagnosis of patient symptoms and signs upon hospital admission, (b) by enzyme immunoassay for detection of Bothrops atrox and Lachesis muta venom from serum samples taken from patients before antivenom therapy, or (c) by direct identification of the snake, when it was brought along to the hospital or photographed. There were 133 snakebites (76.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) registered during one year (July 2017 to June 2018). Most snakebites (88.7%) were caused by Bothrops spp., and the rest by non-venomous snakes or dry bites. Snakebites tended to occur more often during the rainy season, coinciding with the period of greater reproductive activity of the snakes and greater availability of their prey. In addition, the increase in the water level of rivers and lakes during the rainy season tends to concentrate snakes in dry places and, thus, to increase encounters with humans. Information campaigns on prevention and first aid, specially among the most vulnerable groups (indigenous people, farmers, and children and teenagers in rural areas), and the importance of using protective equipment (boots, leggings, leather gloves) in certain high risk activities (e.g. agriculture and extractivism in forests) are fundamental for the reduction of snakebite morbidity.