Along with welcome showers the monsoon brings with it a host of problems, one of which is a surge in the incidence of snakebite in the region. The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research alone gets three to five cases of people bitten by snakes every day during the rainy season.
However, PGI experts say a simple mosquito net can save many lives of snakebite victims and simple precautions like sleeping on a cot (snakes are not able to climb) will keep the reptiles away. "Since many people, especially the poor and farmers who usually sleep on the floor, may not be able to afford cots, mosquito nets have been found to be very useful.
They not only offer protection against insects way but also prevent snakes from coming in contact with the person sleeping inside. This simple and cheap intervention should be made available to construction workers and farm labourers,"said Dr Ashish Bhalla, head of the PGI's emergency department.
"Every year during the monsoon we encounter 100 to 150 cases of snakebite and related complications. Rainwater floods into the burrows of snakes, forcing them to come out and search for food. This often results in snakes biting human beings accidentally,"he added.
According to the PGI experts, 60% to 70% of snakebites do not cause severe poisoning due to a variety of reasons such as the snake may be harmless or the bite contains too little or no venom.
In north India two major species of snakes are encountered - the Indian Common Krait, whose bite causes neuroparalysis and death due to respiratory failure, and Russel's viper, whose bite causes vasculotoxicity, leading to haemolysis and renal failure. "Death in cases of people bitten by these snakes is usually due to excessive bleeding or renal (kidney) failure,"Bhalla said.
According to the history of cases reported at PGI, snakes commonly bite those engaged in farming or construction activities, with the Common Krait usually attacking its victims at night
In particular people sleeping on the floor are exposed to greater risk.