By Marion V. Ali
Elias Jucub would have celebrated his 12th birthday this Friday, but instead, he was laid to rest this week after a Fer de lance (locally called Tommy Goff), one of the deadliest snakes in Belize, bit him in his native San Miguel Village on Saturday morning.
The schoolboy had just returned home shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday and decided to accompany a relative to the Rio Grande River, which splits the village in two, to do some fishing for the family lunch.
But his day’s plans quickly turned into tragedy when the snake charged at him and deposited a lethal dose of venom in the boy’s right arm.
He returned home and his family decided to take him about 15 miles away to Golden Stream Village to get treated the traditional Maya way, by a “bush doctor”. But after administering the treatment, the patient died.
Several vital hours were lost, and by the time the family returned and took the boy to the Punta Gorda community hospital, it was too late.
The snake’s venom had spread throughout his body and by 2 a.m. Sunday, less than 24 hours after the snake bite, he was dead.
The “Tommy Goff” is a venomous pit viper species found in jungles spreading from southern Mexico to northern South America. They are found in lowland habitats, often in close proximity to human habitations in rural communitie. The fer de lance is the species that causes the most snakebites and the most deaths in the region.