Snakebite deaths in India

• The Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR) at the University of Toronto, Canada recently released a study titled ‘Snakebite Mortality in India: A Nationally Representative Mortality Survey’.

Key findings:

• India recorded 1.2 million snakebite deaths in the 20-year period from 2000 to 2019 with an average of 58,000 deaths caused by snakebite annually.

• Around 70% of these deaths occurred in low altitude, rural areas of eight States — Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

• Half of all the snakebite deaths occurred during the monsoon period from June to September.

• Snakebite deaths occurred mostly in rural areas (97%), were more common in males (59%) than females (41%), and peaked in the age group of 15-29 years (25%).

• The numbers for annual snakebite deaths were highest in the States of Uttar Pradesh (8,700), Andhra Pradesh (5,200) and Bihar (4,500).

• The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises snakebite as a top-priority neglected tropical disease.

• Indian anti-venoms neutralise venom from only the spectacled cobra (there are three other Indian cobra species), common krait (there are seven other krait species), Russell’s viper and saw-scaled viper, whereas there are 12 other snake species causing fatal bites in the country.

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Mains Paper 3: Environment

Prelims level: Snakebite deaths

Mains level: Highlights the Global Health Research survey

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