Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Maharashtra records most snake bite cases in India in 2017—Maharashtra recorded 19,012 cases from rural areas and 5,425 cases from urban spaces – via Herp Digest

Hindustan Times, 11/19/17 by Bardi Chatterjee

Of the 1.14 lakh cases of snake bites in India between April 1 and October 31, 24,437 were in Maharashtra, putting the state on top of the list compiled by the ministry of health and family welfare.

While West Bengal came a close second (23,666 cases), 10,735 cases were reported from Andhra Pradesh, 7,657 from Odisha, 7,619 from Karnataka, 6,976 from Uttar Pradesh, 4,567 from Tamil Nadu, and 4,079 from Telangana. The data showed 94,874 cases were reported from rural areas.

Maharashtra recorded 19,012 cases from rural areas and 5,425 cases from urban spaces. Nashik reported most incidents in the state (2,696), followed by Palghar (2,343), Thane (1,332) Raigad (1,216), Jalgaon (1,180) and Pune (1,081). Mumbai came last with 133 cases.

Experts blamed lack of lights, garbage management and awareness to deal with situations, said experts. “We need to create awareness about how the incidents happen and how to tackle them. There is a need to avoid open defecation, sleeping on the floor,” said Sunil Limaye, chief conservator of forest, Thane forest range. “We also need to provide specialised training to all medical doctors, be it at primary medical centres, clinics and hospitals, regarding urgent steps to be taken.”

Officials from the Maharashtra animal welfare board said they will inform the state government about the rising incidents and work with ministry of health to reduce the issue. “The figures are alarming for Maharashtra. Awareness drives are already in progress at the local panchayat levels, but they will be expedited,” said NG Jayasimha, member, Maharashtra animal welfare board. “Snake bite deaths can be completely prevented. Open defecation is a major issue. Providing basic amenities such as solar lights and toilets in remote areas can help.”

This is the first year the union health ministry collated country-wide data on snake-bite cases on the Health Management Information System (HMIS), said central government officials. “Our intention is to increase reporting,” said a senior official from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “Guidelines were issued to all state governments to direct hospitals at the city, district and village levels to submit data on snake-bite emergencies. This will act as a database to identify locations where anti-snake venom can be provided to mitigate such cases faster.”

“There is more awareness and the presence of local clinics in rural districts in Maharashtra and West Bengal compared to other states that are able to deal with such cases,” he said.

According to a Lancet study from October this year -- Snake-bite in India: a neglected disease of poverty -- in India, 49 000 people die of snake bites every year, although this figure is probably underestimated because most patients in rural India attend village healers, read the study. “Doctors at primary health centres in India are replaced every 6-12 months and have poor knowledge on how to tackle them. Many victims die on the journey to big, city-based hospitals,” the study said.

Doctors said snake bites need to be made a nationally notifiable disease such as AIDS, polio or malaria. “To avoid panic situations, doctors also need to be well aware about the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes,” said Dr YK Gupta, head, department of pharmacology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and chief of National Poisons Information Centre.

He said there is a need for widespread availability of anti-snake venom in rural districts. “Based on primary reporting of the issue, the central government along with states, need to map areas prone to snake bites cases and deaths. Once this is done, provide primary hospitals with a large stock of anti-snake venom, and this information needs to be shared to the most remote medical clinics for faster treatment and availability of medicines,” said Dr Gupta.

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