`Venom': Snakebites kill 300 in Andhra every year

Union ministry of health and family welfare said that a total of 3,163 deaths and 1.6 snakebite cases were reported in the country in 2019. Of which, 467 death by snakebites were reported in Andhra Pradesh.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  9 March 2022 2:46 AM GMT
`Venom: Snakebites kill 300 in Andhra every year

Visakhapatnam: A silent killer is lurking in the shadows. More than 300 people die of snakebites in Andhra Pradesh every year. Snakebites can either kill or leave victims disabled for life. Yet, some of the hospitals in the rural parts lack anti-venom drugs.

The latest incident being the Class- VIII student M Ranjith Kumar who died after being bitten by a snake in the Vizianagaram district.

Union ministry of health and family welfare said that a total of 3,163 deaths and 1.6 snakebite cases were reported in the country in 2019. Of which, 467 death by snakebites were reported in Andhra Pradesh.

A senior police officer said rural parts of the north coastal Andhra Pradesh (NCAP) comprising Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, and Srikakulam districts have been reporting snakebites for the past few months.

In the Vizianagaram district alone, 18 deaths due to snake bites were reported in 2020. Likewise in 2021, snakebites left 17 people dead. In Vizag rural, 20 people were killed due to snakebites in 2021.

Kolli Samba Murthy of CPM, Vizianagaram, said lack of healthcare facilities in some areas, poor road connectivity, and the dearth of anti-venom drugs in some hospitals are the major reasons for the increasing casualties.

Medical and health department claim that most of the primary health centers in the region have anti-venom drugs. However, the reality is that most of the health centers refer patients to either King George Hospital in Vizag city or Maharajah Medical College in Vizianagaram Town.

"We visited the Government Social Welfare Boys' Hostel at Kurupam in Vizianagaram district where the snakebite incident took place. We have observed that the students in the hostel lack basic needs. If the authorities failed to provide the basic requirements in the hostel, snakebite incidents will continue," he said.

Not only the rural and tribal pockets but also parts of Vizag city are home to poisonous snakes including cobra, king cobra, Russell' viper, and a few others. The incidents of snakebites have been increasing in the Vizag region also.

"In rural pockets, the farmers are the most victims. The snakebites can kill and sometimes leave survivors disabled. Recently a newly married man was disabled due to the snakebite incident at Parawada in Vizag city," said Rokkam Kiran Kumar who has rescued over 10,000 snakes.

Kumar is the founder of the snake saver society in Vizag city.

"Victims' ignorance in dealing with snakebites and clinical mismanagement of envenomations are some of the major causes for the morbidity and mortality in the region. I have rescued 12 snakes, including some cobras in the past few days in Vizag city," Kiran Kumar added.

Key Points

- There is a correlation between agrarian communities and the high frequency of encounters and snakebites in rural pockets.

- India recorded a staggering 1.2 million snakebites deaths in the 20 years from 2000 to 2019 with an average of 58,000 deaths caused by snakebite annually.

- A study revealed that 70 percent of the deaths due to snakebites are limited to eight states including united Andhra Pradesh.

- Most venomous snake bites (85-90 percent) are not life-threatening as the amount of venom injected is insufficient to kill.

- There are over 12 snake species causing fatal bites in the country

- The primary victims of snakebites are rural farmers and their families.

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