The Many Dangers of Consuming Snake Meat

Snake meat is a delicacy in several parts of the world owing to its nutritional value. In China there are several recipes for snake meat preparation, it is also highly sought after for its medicinal benefits. Over the years, the indiscriminate killing and consumption of snake and their eggs have been on the rise. The haphazard consumption of snake could have huge medical consequences, some of which could be sometimes deadly. In Africa and Nigeria, it is increasingly becoming a common practice for locals to kill and immediately consume snakes no matter the species without recourse to health consequences and hygiene.

Dead or live snakes are potent killers, around 100,000 people are killed each year by snakes. Scientist estimates that between 1.2 million and 5.5 million snake bites occur annually.

The dangers of consuming snake meat include;

  1. Risk of Being Killed by Residual Venom

There is always the danger of consuming snake venom especially from under-cooked or raw snake meat. Eating such inappropriately prepared snake meals can result in serious medical complications.

  1. Danger of Pricks from Poisonous or Venom Contaminated Bones

The network of snake bones is very extensive and preparing a snake meat is an art which many have not mastered. The bone of many snake species could still be poisonous from contamination even after death. This makes handling of snake meat by an inexperienced cook very dangerous.

  1. Danger of Bite Even After Death

The reflexive action of the nervous system of many snake species allows them to bite and inject venom even after death. This unimaginable feat is common in snakes like Cobra and Rattle snake. Recently, a chef was killed while he was preparing a dish from cobra flesh. He was bitten by the snake’s head twenty minutes after it was cut off. According to reports, the victim Mr. Peng Fan was making a special dish from the meat of an Indochinese spitting Cobra, a rare delicacy in Asia, where eating snakes is a way of life.

  1. Microbiological and a Heavy Metal contamination

Eating reptiles can pose serious health challenges as a result of the presence of parasites, bacteria, viruses and heavy metals. A study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology revealed that eating reptiles such as snakes can result in Trichinosis, Pentastomiasis, Gnathostomiasis and Sparganosis. According to Simone Magnino, the lead author of the study and a researcher for the World Health Organization (WHO), the greatest risk comes from the presence of Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia coli, Yersinia enterolitica, Campylobacter, Clostridium and Staphylococcus aureus, which can result in severe illnesses and disease.

Snake meat may taste like chicken but it is not chicken, it may appear cheap but in the long run the cost of medi-care and its accompanying inconveniences often leave a sour taste in the mouth. Sometimes when it comes to snakes, the wisest thing to do is to safely incinerate, bury, or properly dispose its carcass because even a dead snake could still be as lethal as its living relatives.


Originally published at www.publichealth.com.ng.

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