Is M7 responsible for the death of 5 kids at Bumeru Primary School?

People of Uganda,
We were all warned by the powers that be, that they are going to be deploying snakes to disperse crowds!  Surely hope that was just a threat and they have not lived up to the promise. In a place like Uganda where lab to physician communication could sometime take days and not minutes and with a limited supply of knowledgeable snake antidote scientists, many people could loose their lives as a result of escaped venomous snakes or the ones that we have lived with since the biblical era.

An even more disturbing fact, is that the kids were fetching water a Ugandan generational curse/condition that has been persistent without remedy or improvement forever. The price for a foot of plastic piping is $0.78 cents and the motor to pump the water is $400.00 we can start to make a difference by collecting money for such schools as Bumeru Primary School as a first defence mechanism from such an exposure
I hope the ministry of health has heard the alarm and is working to ensure a good supply of antidotes such as Strychnine is in place and in most of our clinics for those bitten by poisonous snakes. How could we just let our children die due to lack of adequate preparation; Have we never thought about it in a land where snakes are in plenty?

In an old British Medical Journal of Feb 22 1868 a scientists discovered that alcohol (Whiskey) when given in small doses and intermittently, helped to keep the heart stimulated while the poison was being drained.
He conducted several experiments with Cobras biting dogs, those treated with alcohol survived the ordeal and those not treated ended up dying-why couldn’t we start there- by having our medical students carry out such experiment with some of the most poisonous snakes we have and work towards the discovery of an antidote.

However, a more promising antidote is one reported by Dr. Mitchel, as a more modern cure, much as you need plenty of it to work the poison out of the system; please read below and here is the link:

Kills Snake Venom

July 25th, 2005 | Science & Natural History
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Various Methods of Neutralizing Poison.
Strychnine Believed to Be the Most Effective Antedote–Whiskey Has at Last Been Discounted–Poisons Kill Each Other.

A sure antidote for the snake poison has been found. The discovery will mark an epoch in the history of medicine. For thousands of years the secret has been sought in vain. It was Prince Lucien Bonaparte who, in 1843, first made a chemical analysis of the venom of the viper separating its active principle, which he called “viperine.” A similar principle has ben separated from the poison of the rattlesnake by Dr. Weir Mitchell, which he has termed “crotaline.” But until now no knowledge has been obtained of anything antagonistic to this toxic agent though alleged “cures” for snake bite have been plentiful enough. The remedy so long looked for has been found at last in strychnine. The deadly fluid secreted by certain species of snakes was made a subject of study from a very early date, but the old-time investigators knew not how to solve the intricate problems of organic chemistry. All that they accomplished was to create a prodigious number of antidotes, so-called, most of which in their turn were declared infallible. Not one of them was worth a penny. The most notable work in this line has been performed by Dr. Weir Mitchell of Philadelphia who, for the sake of obtaining sufficient quantities of the poison has sometimes kept as many as 100 serpents in his laboratory. His method of securing the venom for examination was to the seize the snake by the neck with tongs, forcing a saucer between the jaws. The enraged reptile would then bite into the saucer, on which the poison emitted was left. The substance thus obtained is a yellowish, transparent, sticky fluid, without smell or taste, easily dissolved in water. When dried it will retain its toxic properties for any length of time apparently, looking like a gum or varnish, and it has been preserved for twenty-two years without altering in the least. On this ground it is advisable to handle with caution even the dried fangs of snakes long dead. Boiling, unless continued for a long time, does not render the fluid harmless.

Alcohol has long held the first place in popular esteem as an antidote for snake poison. In truth, it is not such at all, though useful to sustain the vitality of the person bitten against the attack made upon it by the toxic agent. It stimulates the nerve centers and the action of the heart, if taken in small doses. But the mistake ordinarily made is to pour into the patient large quantities of whisky, the effect of which is exactly the opposite of that required. In such great doses alcohol depresses instead of stimulating the vital functions. Intoxication, far from helping the cure, aids the poison. And, by the way, people have often died from snake bite who were bitten when dead drunk.

With the newly discovered antidote the case is exactly the opposite. Danger is far more likely to result from hesitation in using it liberally than from an overdose. Strychnine–itself a poison scarcely less terrible than snake venom–acts directly upon the nerves, stimulating and turning on their batteries, which the snake poison seeks to depress and turn off. Acting with the unerring certainty of a chemical test, it neutralizes the effects of the serpent venom. But it must be administered in extraordinary quantities, even to the point of production spasmodic twitching of the muscles.

In fact, the ordinary doses must be greatly exceeded, and the administration of the strychnine must be continued, even if the total quantity injected within an hour or two amounts to what in the absence of snake poison would be a dangerous if not fatal dose. The few failures among the numerous success with the drug thus far recorded have nearly all be traceable to an insufficiency of the antidote. In urgent cases as much as twenty to twenty-five minutes should be given to any persons over fifteen years of age. If at the end of twenty minutes the symptoms show no abatement, a second injection of the same strength should be made promptly, and unless then a decided improvement is perceptible, a third one after a like interval. The action of the drug when applied as an antidote is not cumulative. The tendency to relapses is always great where much venom has been absorbed. Apparently yielding to the strychnine for the time, the insidious poison, after an interval during which it seems to have been conquered, all at once reasserts its presence and has to be met by fresh injections, regardless of the quantity previously administered. With children the amount of the remedy to be given must not be judged by the age of the child, but by the amount of venom to be counteracted, the degree of danger chiefly depending upon the size of the snake. The bigger the reptile, of course, the more poison it has. Furthermore, it is to be remembered that of all American serpents the rattlesnake is the most dangerous, the copperhead less so and the water moccasin least.

Don’t try this at home! Go to the hospital please, if you’ve been bitten. And if you have, why are you reading this on the internet??

Dr Mitchell was an eminent neurologist turned author. One of his most famous works is The Autobiography of a Quack, described by the Literature, Arts and Medicine Database as “cleverly constructed and written with a keen sense of satire”.

I can’t imagine anyone wanting to poison themselves with strychnine because of a snake bite. The cure would be just as bad as the sickness. You can read more about different poisons and their antidotes here. The idea of using strychnine as an antidote to snake venon has apparently not made it to the web. At least not until now.


Ugandan in boston


7 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. ugandansatheart,


    What has reptiles in common with Uganda politics? Remember the Embalasasa (Lizard) in 1969 and what happened to Obote in 1971? . The tortoise (opuk, enkuddu) and Nassur Abdalla in 1978 and what happened to Amin in April 1979?. The snake with Godfrey Binaisa in Iganga in 1979 and few months later Lukongwa was booted out of power.

    Now what does this case of one snake killing five children in Bugiri tell us? Anybody on the forum from Kooki tell us.

    Paul Lam-Kilama
    UAH forumist

  2. ugandansatheart,

    These kids had a chance they died in a hospital. So although the snake bite strangles muscle they had the ability to reach a damn Uganda hospital unlike the Ugandans that fly out to be treated there was no treatment for them. So the question becomes how many children have died in this manner? For I can bet to you that if this snake had bitten one child it would not have hit the news.

    Just on record,There is no Black Mamba species in Uganda. So let us cut out Pokopoko.

    Edward Mulindwa
    Bugerere Headquarters

  3. ugandansatheart,

    A puff adder is a very lazy, lethargic snake. It seems this attack took place very fast. It is very unlikely that it can attack five children in this manner. Having said that, here is how it could also be a puff adder….. being the lazy and mild snake it is, the children could have discovered it, admired it and played with it for a long time as it tried desperately to defend itself by biting them one by one. Some of the children could have gotten more than one bite. When I was a kid, some children in my village got killed by a puff adder that they had enjoyed playing with and teasing for a long time, not even realising that it had actually bitten them in the process. We were warned to steer clear from any snake however beautiful it looked. To us then, A SNAKE=DEATH. You either killed it, ran away from it or it killed you. As simple as that.

    I still think this attack was fast since it is reported that parents heard children shouting and rushed to the scene a moment too late.

    Why did this expert rule out a cobra which is also a very likely culprit given its record of aggressiveness?

    I come from an area teeming with all sorts of land and water snakes including pythons. I agree snakes should not be killed anyhow. I also believe most snakes are not poisonous, otherwise we would be having very many fatalities in our village from snake bites alone because they are not very few.

    But how do you protect the children who naturally tend to have a lot of affection for snakes? We were taught the SNAKE=DEATH message from an early age given the environment we grew in. It was a harsh message and, now that I am grown, I can fully understand its implications on nature conservation. But believe me, it contributed a lot to some of us being alive today.

    With children, you need a clear, straightforward message that deters them completely from messing around with snakes, since they cannot tell which one is poisonous, a human predator or just a scavenger.

    I guess the challenge is how to package the message for children of different ages, from different environments, levels of development and appreciation of nature conservation.

    Ogwanga ‘Sam.
    UAH forumist

  4. ugandansatheart,

    My friends,
    most snakes are not aggressive. They only react when they feel trheatened. The only ones that would attack humans deliberately are those looking for food, like pythons. etc or those protecting their brood. A majority of snakes will just let you go. Even the cobra. I dont think we should kill them actually. We should respect their habitat and be careful, especially in the jungle areas. They are now in competition with us as humans, but even in the wild forests where the red indians live, snakes dont attack humans. They alsways give way and hit back as a last resort. Unfortunately children often dont know this. The people I blame are the parents and Mr Museveni”s government for failing to educate children about such simple and elementary things, ie snakes are not a toy and best leave them alone and they will go away.


  5. ugandansatheart,

    Sam Ogwang;

    While it is deadly, a Black Mamba does not produce enough venom to cause such multiple deaths within such a short period, according to my expert friend. In fact, a Black Mamba is like a Rhino – aggressive and impatient.

    They don’t in lay wait: they easily expose themselves to their would-be victims. So, the main suspect in these kids’ deaths is the other Dradu – Puff Adder.

    Pojim Edward
    UAH forumist

  6. ugandansatheart,

    l had not joined this talk but your persistance has reminded me the year 1976 when a Black Mamba (enswera) spat in the eys of my four year old sister at Nakatolo well in my home Nnambiriizi village. A neighbor, THE LATE LAULENSIYO MUKASA, WENT TO THE BUSH COLLECTED SOME HERBS, SPAT ON THE EYS OF THE GIRl AND REOPENED. THE UNFORTUNATE ONE WAS AGAIN BITTEN BY A SNAKE IN 1982 and the same man cured her with his herbs. But l don’t know whether he passed those skills and knowledge to other people. We shoulsd be like Chinese, preserve and promote our herbs some times better than Western medicine, which is full of side effects.

    Ahmed Katerega
    UAH forumist

  7. ugandansatheart,

    Mulinwda always writes and “thinks” afterwards, hence his usual pokopoko. Black Mamba are quite abundant in Uganda, Mulindwa bear that in mind please.

    My heart cries out for these children who had to die in this way, real tragedy. It is probable the children were bitten by a Gaboon Viper a.k.a puff adder. I say so because it is described as a most deadly and gorgeous snake in all of Africa. It has very good camouflage and is said to be very tolerant and docile. Some researchers say it “can be handled as freely as any non venomous snakes”, although this is absolutely not recommended.

    The fact that all five children were bitten indicate that all five children were in close proximity to the snake, ie they all made contact with the snake first rather than the snake making first contact with all of them. Secondly the fact that all five children died implies bites from a very deadly snake. These facts tend to point to the Gaboon Viper as the culprit. What could have happened is that the children might have picked it up as a dead snake or even a toy snake and passed it around while being bitten in the process. We just don’t know; only guessing.
    Black Mamba and Cobra usually give warning hisses before they strike making it unlikely all five children would be bitten by these two species of snake. However both species are capable of delivering deadly multiple stikes with utmost precision and very quickly.
    My sincere condolece to the families.

    Pilipo Oruni
    UAH forumist

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