Docs warn of increase in snakebite cases

Kathmandu, August 31

Health officials have warned of increase in snakebite cases in flood-affected areas.

However, they have advised people not to panic as there was ample stock of anti-snake venom in hospitals throughout the country.

Flood victims are vulnerable to snakebites as they are living in open areas and not using nets while sleeping, said Abhinash Prasad Singh, Zoonosis Officer at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Teku.

Among other flood-affected districts, Saptari alone reported 120 snakebite cases from July 16 to August 16. An increasing number of snakebite cases are being reported from other flood-affected districts in the Tarai.

The snake usually comes out during the summer season when it rains. Krait and cobra are the most venomous snakes found in the Tarai region.

“Krait and cobra have neurotoxic venom, which causes neuromuscular blockage leading to paralysis of skeletal muscles, inability to respire and eventually death,” added Dr Anup Bastola, consultant tropical medicine physician at STIDH.

Similarly, viper has hematotoxic venom which causes dilution of blood. People may develop bleeding. However, Russell’s viper causes bleeding from mucosa including eye, nose, skin and internal organs.

People living in the flooded areas are therefore advised to wear boots and not to come out of their homes at night unless necessary, walk with a stick and torch, and make sound with the stick by hitting it on the ground.

In some cases, patients have died after being bitten by non-venomous snakes. This is because they actually die of heart attack.  Patients need to stay calm after being bitten by snakes

Health officials have advised snakebite patients to wash the bite with soap and water and cover it with clean, dry dressing before visiting a health centre.

They have also advised patients to remember the colour and shape of the snake and the time the bite happened as the impact of the snakebite differs with the species. Each needs to be treated based on the symptoms.