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Conventional anti-venom serum ineffective against NE snake bites

By SANJOY RAY
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GUWAHATI, Dec 30 - The reel world might have shed its inhibition for venomous snakes, but in the real world there is no ignoring this awe-inspiring reptile which continues to evoke fear, especially in rural Assam.

However, contrary to the frequency of the conflicts it had with human beings in the last few years, experts believe that the composition used in the commonly used anti-venom serum is not effective vis-�-vis the types of venomous snakes found in this part of the country.

Records say more than 7,500 persons were treated for snake bites in the State in the last six years, with a fatality count of 40. Of the 7,550 cases recorded since 2010 (till November 2015), nearly 3,500 cases were serious in nature, necessitating their hospitalisation. Others were treated as outdoor patient department (OPD) cases.

Sources at Dispur suggest that more than 75 per cent of the total cases are reported from interior and underdeveloped areas. �Hardly any cases are reported from towns and urban areas,� sources claimed.

In the year 2015 itself, more than 1,100 incidents of snake bites were reported, in which five had lost their lives. In the preceding year too, snake bites accounted for five lives.

Experts are also of the opinion that the popular anti-venom serum administered on the victims of snake bites in Assam does not entirely suit the need in the context of the type of venomous snakes commonly found in Assam and other north-eastern States.

Further, they claimed that the popular anti-venom used in the hospitals might sometimes have adverse side effects on the victim, which may even lead to his/her death.

�The composition of the anti-venom serum which is popularly used in India, including Assam, is derived from venom of snakes like spectacled cobra (Naja Naja), common krait (Bungarus Caeruleus), Russell�s Viper (Daboia Russelii) and saw-scaled viper (Echis Carinatus). However, these snakes are not the ones which are found in Assam. Hence, these anti-venom serum become less or totally ineffective.

In fact, there are chances of it causing undesirable results, said herpetologist Jayaditya Purkayastha, who is working in the field since 2005 and is also the general secretary of Help Earth, an environmental NGO.

"In our part of the region, the venomous snakes are kraits, monocle cobra and green pit viper. That is why there is a need for a collaborative study on the composition of the indigenous anti-venoms to make it effective," he added.

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Conventional anti-venom serum ineffective against NE snake bites

GUWAHATI, Dec 30 - The reel world might have shed its inhibition for venomous snakes, but in the real world there is no ignoring this awe-inspiring reptile which continues to evoke fear, especially in rural Assam.

However, contrary to the frequency of the conflicts it had with human beings in the last few years, experts believe that the composition used in the commonly used anti-venom serum is not effective vis-�-vis the types of venomous snakes found in this part of the country.

Records say more than 7,500 persons were treated for snake bites in the State in the last six years, with a fatality count of 40. Of the 7,550 cases recorded since 2010 (till November 2015), nearly 3,500 cases were serious in nature, necessitating their hospitalisation. Others were treated as outdoor patient department (OPD) cases.

Sources at Dispur suggest that more than 75 per cent of the total cases are reported from interior and underdeveloped areas. �Hardly any cases are reported from towns and urban areas,� sources claimed.

In the year 2015 itself, more than 1,100 incidents of snake bites were reported, in which five had lost their lives. In the preceding year too, snake bites accounted for five lives.

Experts are also of the opinion that the popular anti-venom serum administered on the victims of snake bites in Assam does not entirely suit the need in the context of the type of venomous snakes commonly found in Assam and other north-eastern States.

Further, they claimed that the popular anti-venom used in the hospitals might sometimes have adverse side effects on the victim, which may even lead to his/her death.

�The composition of the anti-venom serum which is popularly used in India, including Assam, is derived from venom of snakes like spectacled cobra (Naja Naja), common krait (Bungarus Caeruleus), Russell�s Viper (Daboia Russelii) and saw-scaled viper (Echis Carinatus). However, these snakes are not the ones which are found in Assam. Hence, these anti-venom serum become less or totally ineffective.

In fact, there are chances of it causing undesirable results, said herpetologist Jayaditya Purkayastha, who is working in the field since 2005 and is also the general secretary of Help Earth, an environmental NGO.

"In our part of the region, the venomous snakes are kraits, monocle cobra and green pit viper. That is why there is a need for a collaborative study on the composition of the indigenous anti-venoms to make it effective," he added.