36 snakebite deaths reported from Jan. to June this year in Karnataka as opposed to 19 in all of 2023 

The State in February declared snakebite deaths and cases notifiable under the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020

Published - July 10, 2024 10:14 pm IST - Bengaluru

Karnataka is home to several region-specific venomous snakes, such as the king cobra.

Karnataka is home to several region-specific venomous snakes, such as the king cobra. | Photo Credit: File Photo

The number of snakebite cases and deaths are on a steady rise in Karnataka. While a total of 5,418 snakebite cases and 36 deaths have been reported in the first six months (January to June) this year, as many as 6,596 snakebite cases and 19 deaths were reported in 2023.

While Hassan has reported the highest number of cases at 419, Chickballapur and Davangere follow with 373 and 369 cases, respectively. The highest number of snakebite deaths have been recorded in Tumakuru and Koppal (five each) followed by Chitradurga and Uttara Kannada that have recorded four and three deaths, respectively, according to official data.

Following a huge gap between the number of snakebite envenoming and deaths reported from direct surveys and in official data, Karnataka in February this year declared snakebite deaths and cases notifiable under the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020. Following this, the State Health Department directed all hospitals and medical colleges (teaching hospitals), including private facilities, to mandatorily enter all snakebite cases and deaths on the Integrated Health Information Portal (IHIP). 

Attributing the rise in cases to improved reporting by hospitals, Ansar Ahmed, Project Director, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), said snakebite envenoming is a neglected tropical disease caused by the bite of a venomous snake.

Globally, there are approximately 2,000 species of snakes, with 310 species found in India alone. Out of these, 66 species are venomous and pose a serious threat to human health. The ‘big four’ venomous species in India include the Indian cobra, common krait, Russell’s viper, and the saw-scaled viper. In addition to these, Karnataka is home to several region-specific venomous snakes, such as the king cobra, the Malabar pit viper, and the hump-nosed pit viper, the doctor said.

Action plan

The diversity of snake species in Karnataka necessitates an action plan to address the challenges, said Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, who inaugurated a workshop on ‘State Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Snake Bite Envenoming (SAPSE)’ on Tuesday. He said Karnataka is working on developing a strategic framework to combat snakebite incidents effectively. “The goal is to halve the number of snakebite-induced deaths and disabilities by 2030,” he said. 

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