Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh has the second highest rate of death due to snake bite in India. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Wefare, the state witnessed 25,965 cases of snake bite in which as many as 117 people succumbed. The state is second only to West Bengal, where in 2018, around 203 deaths were reported from 36,229 snake bite cases.

In addition, Andhra Pradesh recorded 61 percent increase in deaths. In 2016 the toll was 28 and 85 in 2017.

Mr Avinash Viswanathan from Friends of Snakes, who did a study on cases of snake bites in Andhra Pradesh between 2008 and 2012 told NewsMeter that in Andhra the death ration was two men: one woman. 

“In Andhra we have got a lot of agrarian societies. Our organisation did a study on snake bite cases in the state, according to which most cases were from districts like Krishna where there are a lot of agrarian activities.”

On the gradual increase across the country, Mr Viswanathan said, “They are invariably increasing in urban environments because of habitat loss. Animals have a designated place where they leave and breed. At many times, when we clear up vegetation and forest land, animals will have to move out of their habitat and go to newer areas. Sometimes these newer areas will be places where we live, like residences and offices. So invariably the human-animal conflict increases.”

Sometimes, changing climate confuses animals. Cold-blooded ones like snakes plan their biological processes according to seasons. For instance, right before the start of summer, cobras start mating. And they lay eggs near monsoon time. This means timings are very accurate when it comes to snakes. So sometimes when there is a climate change or uncertain weather conditions these animals get confused and come out of their habitats, he explained.

“Getting treated is a secondary aspect of snake bite cases. Most of the time people end up not reaching hospital on time. They either lack awareness or they don’t trust government hospitals. Snake bites can only be treated by Anti-Snake Venom (ASV) and it’s available in hospitals. But by the time the victims realise their condition is serious and reach the hospitals, it is a tad too late,” he added.

In Telangana, on the other hand, deaths due to snake bite have come down considerably in the last three years. If 96 succumbed to snake bite in 2016, the number was nine by 2018.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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