Science and Technology

Snakebites take a heavy toll on India

| Updated on January 03, 2021

India, the ‘snakebite capital of the world’ loses equivalent of 3 million years of health and productivity to the reptiles’ fangs, according to a recent finding of Nick Roberts of the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The country accounts for over half the world’s snakebites, leaving 45,000 dead and 1.4 lakh disabled annually.

In another study, by the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Prof Kartik Sunagar found that snakebite treatment in India is inadequate. Anti-venom is available only for the ‘big four’ — cobra, krait, Russell’s viper and saw-scaled viper. Some 60 of the 270 species of Indian snakes are venomous; the venom of each is different. For example, the venom of the monocled cobra in West Bengal is neurotoxic (destroys the nervous system) while that in Arunachal Pradesh is cytotoxic (destroys cells).

Published on January 03, 2021

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