Snakebite cases in Telangana down by 50%

Are snakes in Telangana biting less? Or are the Health Department staff under reporting snake bite cases this year? According to statistics, the number of snake bite cases from January to first week of May this year is 50% to 70% less than first five months of 2017 and 2018.

While 773 snake bite cases were reported from January to May in 2017, it increased to 973 cases during the corresponding period in 2018. However, it plunged to 324 cases from January to May 5, which is 55% to 60% less than the numbers from last two years.

Officials from the Telangana Health Department said that they will find out the reason for the sharp decline in number of snake bite cases. However,they did not completely discard the possibility that cases might be under-reported.

"We will find the trends in other States too. It might be a case of under-reporting. But we will find the reason,"said an official who did not want to be named. During the above mentioned time periods, in Karimnagar , 96 cases were reported in 2017, 159 in 2018, but only 35 cases in 2019.

In case of Mahabubnagar, 56 cases were reported in 2017, 75 in 2018 and only 23 in 2019.

The same trend was observed in Mancherial, Nagarkurnool.

Mahabubnagar District Medical and Health Officer R Rajini said that awareness sessions on avoiding getting bitten by snakes could be a reason for the decrease in the number of cases.

On May 23, the World Health Organisation unveiled its strategy for cutting down disabilities and deaths due to snakebites by 50% by 2030 on the sidelines of the 72nd session of World Health Assembly held in Geneva.

In the executive summary - Snakebite Envenoming: A strategy for prevention and control - four strategic aims were listed to achieve the target- empower and engage communities, ensure safe and effective treatment, strengthen health systems and increase coordination, partnership and resources.

The second strategic aim is about building a sustainable, stable market for safe, effective anti-venoms at reasonable cost and assured access to treatment.

“The current crisis in the supply of anti-venoms should be addressed by the WHO by creating a revolving stockpile of anti-venoms proven to be effective, so they can be sent where they are needed,” as stated in the executive summary.

Telangana Health Department's Principal Secretary A Santhi Kumari is part of around six-member team from India who are attending 72nd session of the World Health Assembly, which was held from in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 21 to 26. The strategy to control and prevent snakebite envenoming was launched on sidelines of the Assembly. Officials from the State Health Department said that the exposure and knowledge gained by the Principal Secretary will help in framing heath policies here.

Doctor’s take

Untreated snakebites can lead to gangrene, disfigurement of injured portion, amputation or death, depending on varying degrees of snakebites envenoming, said Avinash Visvanathan, general secretary, Friends of Snake Society. If someone gets bitten by a viper snake, they could suffer from kidney failure leading to multi-organ failure.

Mr Avinash said that in 80% of the snake bite cases, people get bitten on hands and feet. He suggested farmers to wear gum boots while working in field. People have to be careful while picking up stones, wood logs or any object lying on ground as the reptiles might be resting under them.

"A few days ago, a woman in Nizamabad inserted her hand in a drainage pipe to clean it and got bitten by a cobra. However, she brushed it off as a bruise. It was too late by the time She developed medical complications and opted for treatment, and she died," Mr. Avinash said.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 2:05:52 PM |

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