Snake bite is an important cause of death and disability amongst the rural poor, with far reaching economic consequences for families because of the costs of treatment and because it is frequently the income generators and care givers of the family who are affected. The World Health Organization estimates there are 2.7 million envenomings every year, resulting in between 81 000 to 138 000 deaths. However, lack of systematic reporting of bites and deaths means that these estimates are likely inaccurate. Patients with severe envenoming may die before they reach health centres with the facilities to treat them.
Around 800 patients suffering snake envenomation are seen in Ho Chi Minh City every year. Most patients have been bitten in the countryside and have had to travel long distances for their treatment or been transferred from hospitals in the districts. We are worried that many patients with bites from snakes that can cause paralysis (e.g. cobras) are dying before they can reach city hospitals for help.
Therefore, we have teamed up with local doctors and students from the British International School, Ho Chi Minh City, to develop a smartphone App (‘SnakeByte’) to enable doctors from across Vietnam, including in rural health posts, district, provincial and central hospitals, to report cases of snake bite envenoming. The App gathers basic anonymised data, which are encrypted and transferred to a centralized secure server, enabling the generation of maps of snakebite occurences by species. The App also provides advice on first aid, photo galleries for snake identification, and contacts and resources for expert advice regarding specialized treatment.
The App will enable us to accurately understand the true burden of snakebite in Vietnam, including which species are causing envenomings, where and when they occur, so we can plan rational development and distribution of treatment. The App will shortly begin beta testing.
App developed by Cedric Chua, graphics designed by Dan Champion (British International School), with supervision from Claire Easter, (Former Head of Computing, BIS), Dan Gamwell (Teacher of Computing and Head of Theory of Knowledge) BIS Vietnam, and Jeremy Day, OUCRU.
For further information on Snake envenomation see: