ACHHAM: Two persons have lost lives to snake bites in the district as the victims were referred to a shaman instead of being rushed to a hospital. The deceased have been identified as 12-year-old Manasar Thapa and Laxmi BK of Balata VDC.

The people in the area have a superstitious belief that a person bitten by a snake dies if rushed to the hospital since the act angers the deities. The local also performed a pooja to appease the gods following the snakebites. ''I kept Laxmi off the hospital believing it would infuriate the God, causing her death,'' said Paru BK.

"Many local residents don't know that a snake-bitten person can be treated," said Shailendra Shrestha, a District Public Health Officer staffer. He said a lot of the cases were reported only after the patient's death since all are not rushed to the hospital.

The DPHO has started an awareness campaign. The DPHO data shows 23 snake-bite patients visited the hospital for treatment this year. DPHO chief Purushottam Sedhai recalled that people had sent a staffer back when he approached a household to treat such a patient.