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The world’s supply of snake anti-venom will run out next month

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Chris Sayer
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Now is not the time to quit your job to become an amateur snake charmer. 

International aid organisation Doctors Without Borders has warned the world that global supplies of Fav-Afrique, an effective treatment for ten different deadly snake venoms in Sub-Saharan Africa, will dry up in June 2016, with a new batch not likely to become available for another two years.

The manufacturer of the anti-venom, Sanofi Pastuer, is having to cease production of the medicine as it's no longer cost-effective to make. They have shared the formula with other companies and is in negotiations, but the replacement product isn’t likely to reach doctors until 2018.

"Most people who get bitten by a snake aren't exactly sure what kind of snake it is that bit them, and so having an anti-venom that works against a variety of different species is really important,” Polly Markandya of Doctors Without Borders told the BBC. "We are worried that without that anti-venom available, people will die unnecessarily."

Globally, five million snakebites occur each year, killing 100,000 victims and permanently disfiguring or disabling 400,000 others. Thirty thousand of those deaths happen in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a further 8,000 people a year there needing emergency amputations as a result of the venom. Needless to say, those figures will rocket without an effective treatment on offer. 

Probably best to tread carefully for the next two years. 

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Chris Sayer

Chris Sayer is a freelance journalist and editor based in London. Chris has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and travelled the world doing an all manner of adventures for lots of brilliant magazines. He writes for Shortlist about booze but would probably prefer we let him write about fishing instead. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSayer00

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