Woman Dies After Venomous Snake Bit Her As She Sat on Toilet

A woman in Nigeria has died after a large venomous snake bit her as she sat on the toilet. The woman, who worked for the Nigerian Air Force and has been identified as Lance Corporal Ogah Bercy, was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

The snake, a large cobra, is believed to have been in the toilet bowl. A snake handler was called to the address in Abuja to remove the animal. Footage posted to social media sites shows a man taking a large snake from the toilet.

Somuyiwa David, an animal scientist and technical commercial executive with Animal Care Services Konsult, posted an email that was shared with him on Facebook. It said the attack took place at Ogah Bercy's apartment early on November 19. She had not checked the toilet bowl before sitting down and was immediately bitten.

Multiple Nigerian news outlets reported Ogah Bercy's death, including The Whistler Nigeria, TODAY and Idoma Voice.

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What species of cobra was responsible is unknown. Nigeria is home to three types of cobra—the Mali cobra, Egyptian cobra, and black-necked spitting cobra. From the footage of the snake being removed, it appears to be a black-necked spitting cobra. This species is one of the most deadly in Nigeria. It grows to between 4 and 7 feet in length.

Snake bites are recognized by the World Health Organization as a neglected tropical disease. An estimated 5.4 million people are bitten every year, with between 81,000 and 138,000 deaths. Three times this number require amputations or are left with permanent disabilities as a result of bites. In Africa, there are between 435,000 and 580,000 snake bites that need medical treatment annually.

Snake bites are a huge public health problem in Nigeria. In September, on International Snakebite Awareness Day, Health Minister Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora said that up to 20,000 people in Nigeria are bitten every year, leading to around 2,000 deaths and a further 2,000 amputations.

Snakes are known to hide in toilets. In 2020, a woman in Thailand was bitten by a python when she sat down on a toilet. In Australia in 2019, a woman told how she jumped from the toilet after being bitten by a carpet python.

More recently, a man on holiday in South Africa was bitten on his penis by a snouted cobra, suffering envenomation of the genitals. "Our take home message? Always flush the toilet before sitting down in countries notorious for their snake population," doctors who treated the man wrote in the Journal of Urology after the incident.

black necked spitting cobra
Stock image of a black-necked spitting cobra. A woman in Nigeria died after being bitten by a cobra as she sat on the toilet in her home in Nigeria. Getty Images