During a recent visit to Liberia, Africa, the Sahbu team ventured out to the remote village of Gbalala. Gbalala is a beautiful mud hut village that is not accessible by car or even motorcycle. Any type of medicine or health care is a day’s walk from Gbalala, and if a person is not able to walk or be carried, it’s an additional day’s travel back to town.

The father (in the yellow) of the 15 year old boy who died from a snake bite

The father (in the yellow) of the 15 year old boy who died from a snake bite

The Sahbu team was saddened upon our arrival to learn of a 15 year old boy who had died the day before. The people of Gbalala, like each of the villages we visited on our trek, rely on the jungle for food. Common food sources found in the jungle are rice, various fruits, avocado, and the people hunt for deer, bush goat, and other sources of meat.

The 15 year old boy had been hunting with a friend in the jungle close to their village. They had been stalking a bush goat which they had shot at previously. They came into the area they had pinpointed as the animal’s hiding place only to find a foxhole. The boy reached into the hole for the bush goat and instead a yellow snake instantaneously struck him three times in the wrist and forearm. The boy was injected with a large amount of poisonous venom such that he had lost his vision within 6 minutes and had passed away within 30 minutes.

When poisonous snake venom is injected into the human cardiovascular system, there is usually time for the anit-venom to be given to the victim which is the only hope to save his/her life. In this area of Liberia, the anit-venom for the Yellow Snake is available but is only found sporadically in government aided clinics. Because the nearest clinic to Gbalala is a day away, a poisonous snake or spider bite usually means death to the victim.

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