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  • 04 February, 2023

  • 6 Min Read

Snakebites in India

Snakebites in India

  • According to recent research by the Kerala Forest Department, snakebites cause nearly twice as many human fatalities as wild elephants.

More on the news:

  • According to an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study, India has seen an estimated 12 lakh snakebite deaths since 2000, or an average of 58,000 each year.
  • India is responsible for over 50% of all snakebite deaths worldwide.
  • The monsoon season, which lasts from June to September, saw the occurrence of half of all snakebite deaths.
  • The following States: Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat saw almost 70% of deaths occur in low-lying, rural areas.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) designated snakebite envenoming (poisoning from snake bites) as a high-priority neglected tropical disease.


  • Ineffective medical care is caused by a lack of awareness, inadequate knowledge of snakebite avoidance, and a lack of first aid in the community.
  • More deaths are caused by peripheral healthcare professionals, delays in receiving life-saving assistance, and a lack of skilled medical officials for managing snakebites.
  • Phobias surrounding snake bites: The general public has incorrect ideas about how to recognize dangerous snakes and snakebites. Belief in a snake god, or the power of magnets or tamarind seeds to lessen the effects of the venom.
  • No government healthcare facility has any Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials on the identification of venomous and non-venomous snakes, prevention, first aid, or treatment of snakebites.


  • Snake Safe Harvest Practices: Rural farmers and their families are the main recipients of snake bites. The risk of snakebites could be decreased by focusing on specific locations and educating people about easy techniques like "snake-safe" harvesting procedures, which involve wearing rubber boots and gloves, mosquito netting, and rechargeable torches (or mobile phone flashlights).
  • Database of Snake Species: Identification of venomous and nonvenomous snake species would benefit from habitat information, quality pictures, and geographic distribution in the form of a snake database.
  • India has the necessary resources to produce vast quantities of anti-venom. However, only the spectacled cobra, common krait, Russell's viper, and saw-scaled viper's venoms are neutralized by Indian anti-venoms, leaving 12 other snake species that can cause lethal bites unaffected.

How is Indian antivenin made?

  • The "Big Four" snakes of India—viper, Russell's Common Krait, Indian Cobra, and Saw-scaled viper—are the source of the antivenom.

  • However, 80% of the polyvalent antivenom produced in India is taken from snakes seized in a single Tamil Nadu district, ignoring the variety of venoms found in other species.
  • For instance, whereas the same species from Arunachal Pradesh possessed cytotoxins in its venom, the West Bengali monocled cobra's venom primarily comprises neurotoxins.
  • A poison that affects the neurological system is a neurotoxin. Cytotoxins cause a body's cells to die.
Actions taken:
  • Included in the curriculum of state public health department training institutions in India are the management of snakebites, the requirement for short-term training for medical graduates during their internship, and the induction training for new employees of state health services.
  • The Union government will incorporate snakebite prevention in a nationwide program.
  • A multi-sectoral strategy of community education and healthcare facility capacity building to lower mortality and morbidity from snakebite envenoming in India.
  • Anti Snake Venom (ASV), the first stage of treatment, is now readily available in every village-level health center in rural India.
  • Even the WHO set a 2030 goal to reduce death and suffering from snakebites in half.

Source: The Indian Express

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