Only 30% of snakebite victims reach hospitals, according to an ICMR study.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued a report on the incidence, mortality, morbidity, and socioeconomic impact of snakebite in the country. According to the study, more than 45,000 people each year are killed by snakes in India, although only 30% of the victims seek medical attention.

The ICMR project, the first of its type in India, will examine the incidence of snakebites in 13 states, including Himachal Pradesh, across five regions and 84 million people.

According to the Registrar General of India- Million Death Study (RGI-MDS), 46,900 people each year are killed by poisonous snakebites in India. Comparatively, just 10-12 deaths per year are attributed to poisonous snakebites in the United States and Australia, despite the fact that Australia contains more dangerous species.

Only 20-30% of snakebite victims in rural India seek medical treatment, according to reports. According to the study, underreporting and a lack of data on incidence, death, and socioeconomic hardship make it difficult to comprehend the full impact of the condition.

The project, the first of its type in India, will examine the incidence of snakebites in 13 states, including Himachal Pradesh, across five regions and 84 million people. Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Tripura are the remaining states.

The international academic journal Plos One released an article on the subject ICMR Task Force Project- A Survey of the Incidence, Mortality, Morbidity, and Socioeconomic Burden of Snakebite in India: A Study Protocol on August 22.

Dr. Jaideep C. Menon of Preventive Cardiology and Population Health Sciences, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre; Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kochi, Kerala, is the national principal investigator for the ICMR study. Dr. Omesh Bharti, state epidemiologist with the department of health and family welfare, Himachal Pradesh government, is the national principal co-investigator.

It is the first survey of its kind to examine snakebites in South-East Asia. Sri Lanka has done it, but they only covered 1% of the population, whereas our study would cover 6,12 %, he noted.

Currently, the snakebite case study is being conducted in 31 districts throughout 13 states, encompassing the West, Central, South, East, North, and North-East regions. It also includes the districts of Kangra, Chamba, and Una in Himachal Pradesh.

According to the paper titled ‘Study Protocol for Snakebite Incidents,’ this NTD may be the’most overlooked’

India accounts for an estimated 50,000 of the estimated 100,000 annual deaths caused by venomous snakebites around the world. Only mortality statistics from the RGI-MDS research (Registrar General of India- 1 Million Death Study) and another study on mortality from the state of Bihar are indicative of snakebites in India. Snakebite incidence statistics are only available for two districts in the state of West Bengal.

After being removed from the WHO (World Health Organization) list of neglected tropical illnesses in 2013, snakebite was reinstated to the list in 2017.

The ICMR’s study protocol for snakebite incidence and burden notes that hospital-based data on snakebite admissions and use of ASV (anti-snake venom) are gross underestimations because the majority of snakebite victims in rural India rely on alternative treatment methods that are not represented in National registries.


Journal Reference

Menon JC, Bharti OK, Dhaliwal RS, John D, Menon GR, Grover A, Chakma JK. ICMR task force project- survey of the incidence, mortality, morbidity and socio-economic burden of snakebite in India: A study protocol. PLoS One. 2022 Aug 22;17(8):e0270735. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0270735. PMID: 35994445; PMCID: PMC9394808.

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