An 18-year-old girl — Manisha — of Nahan in Sirmaur district claims she has survived 34 snakebites even as doctors differ. Doctors found no traces of snake venom in the blood samples of the girl, who was admitted to Dr YS Parmar Medical College, Nahan, after she was “bitten by a snake for the 34th time” in three years. Father, Sumer Verma, said after every snakebite, she loses conscious for some time. However, nobody, except for the girl, has ever seen a snake she had been bitten by.
“None has seen a snake but one can see the impressions of the fangs on her body,” Sumer told HT. Parents also took the girl to astrologers. “We took her to panditji, who said she had a link with snakes from her previous birth,” he said. The parents feel it was due to the blessings of their deity that she has been surviving the deadly bites.
“I lose conscious whenever I see a snake,” Manisha said. However, doctors are not convinced that she has been bitten as many times. “It can be an imagination,” Dr KK Prashar, medical superintendent, Nahan medical college, said. Medical college has suggested psychological counselling for the girl.
“It could be a coincident that the girl was bitten by non-poisonous snakes, but 34 times is quite unbelievable,” Dr Prashar said, adding, “We believe in test reports and so far none of the tests confirmed presence of any type of snake venom in her blood. There are no marks of snake bites either.”
Psychiatry department head at the Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, Dr Ravi Chand Sharma, said, “I don’t think it is true. It can be an attention-catching tactic. This is common among children to say unusual things to catch attention.”
However, Sandeep Sood, a Shimla-based veterinarian, doesn’t trash the claims entirely. “There is possibility that girl is bitten by snakes and the blood may have developed a mechanism to undo the effect of the venom,” he said.
Experts at the department of pharmacology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, who are studying snake venom for years now, also feel that Manisha probably was bitten by non-poisonous snakes.
“There have been reports where human body has developed antibodies against snake venom but the quantity usually is not enough to provide long-term protection. Some people are known to have survived successive snakebites, but whether it’s due to sufficient concentration of antibodies hasn’t been established,” said Dr YK Gupta, head of department.