Snakebites in India: Be specially chary of green pit vipers

Source: The post is based on the article “Be specially chary of green pit viperspublished in The Hindu on 17th July 2022.

What is the News?

According to a study, the antivenom available in India cannot counter the venom of the green pit viper.

Note: Green pit viper is behind most snakebite cases in the northeast.

Data on snakebites

According to available data, over 1.4 million cases of snake bites are reported worldwide resulting in 1,25,000 fatalities annually.

Over 46,000 people die due to snakebites every year in India which is the highest on earth. Out of which, 77% of the victims died outside healthcare facilities.

Most of snakebites are reported in India between June and September. About 58% of the victims are said to be farmers and labourers.

How is antivenom derived in India?

The antivenom is derived from the “Big Four” snakes in India namely Russell’s viper, Common Krait, Indian Cobra and Saw-scaled viper.

However, 80% of all polyvalent antivenom derived in India comes from snakes caught in one district of Tamil Nadu which fails to address the diversity of venoms across the species.

For instance, the venom from monocled cobra from West Bengal contains mostly neurotoxins while the same species from Arunachal Pradesh had cytotoxins in its venom.

Note: Neurotoxin is a poison that acts on the nervous system. Cytotoxins kill the cells in a body.

What does the study say on Green Pit Viper?

Green pit viper is not more lethal than Russell’s viper, but the hemotoxic venom it injects prevents the blood in the body from clotting resulting in internal bleeding.

Moreover, the antivenom available in India cannot counter the venom of the green pit viper.

Suggestions: Experts have ​​called for developing a range of antivenoms that can do what the Big four-snake concoction cannot.  

Print Friendly and PDF