There is very poor awareness about available treatment for snake bite. Many hospitals, even in major cities, do not stock enough antivenom for treatment,” said Dr Sadanand Raut, cardiologist and toxinologist.
Dr Raut was addressing a group of students at an event jointly organised by Modern College of Arts, Science College, Ganeshkhind road and Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension, Savitribai Phule Pune University, on the first International Snakebite Awareness Day on Wednesday.
“For every two deaths caused by HIV positive, there is a corresponding one death caused due to snakebite. Despite the seriousness, there are not enough efforts towards treating these patients, many of whom even are severely handicapped,” said Dr Raut.
Last year, Maharashtra had reported 33,673 cases of snakebite, the highest in the country.
“The challenge in treating victims of snakebite remains in providing immediate medical assistance after the incident, ability to diagnose the case as snakebite and availability of antivenom doses. On many occasions, big hospitals, even in cities like Pune, run out of the stock of this sole medication,” said Dr Raut, who has dedicated his medical practice towards saving snakebite victims in Pune, Thane and Ahmednagar districts.
The disease burden could be far bigger, as according to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 10 per cent of snakebite cases is reported.
In India, most cases of snakebites reported are of four main species of snakes — Indian cobra, Indian krait, Russell’s viper and common krait. From these districts, 131 cases were due to Russell’s viper alone, followed by cobra (63 cases) and krait (22 cases).