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Snakebites shattering lives in Ludhiana, 59 cases reported this year

As many as 59 cases of snake bites have been reported at the civil hospital this year alone with the frequency of such cases increasing during monsoon.

punjab Updated: Aug 25, 2018 13:28 IST
Hitesh Jain
Hitesh Jain
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
punjab,punjab news,ludhiana
Prakash and Manjit Kaur, grandparents of Manish,9, a snakebite victim in Bara village in Phillaur near Ludhiana on Wednesday. (HT Photo)

It has been four years and not a single day has passed when I have not missed my grandchildren, says 68-year-old Parkash Goraya while wiping his tears. It was September 2, 2014 when a snake entered their house in Phillaur’s Bara village near Ludhiana and claimed two lives.

The memories of the incident are still clear in his mind. His four grandchildren were sleeping on the bed. At around midnight, the snake bit Manish,9, on his index finger. As Manish screamed with pain, his six-year-old sister Simran Kaur woke up and saw the snake scrawling down the bed. Simran was so shocked on seeing the snake, that she suffered a heart attack and died on the spot.

“We woke up after hearing the children’s screams. While Manish’s finger arm was soaked in blood, Simran was struggling to catch a breath. Two hours later Simran died in my arm. Manish by then was rushed to a local hospital in Bara village,” grandfather said.

From Bara, he was taken to civil hospital in Phagwara and then referred to Jalandhar. When his condition deteriorated, the nine-year-old was rushed to Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) in Ludhiana. After battling for life for 21 days, Manish succumbed to the poisonous snake bite.

“Even after spending around Rs 9 lakh, Manish could not be saved,” said Manjit Kaur, the deceased’s grandmother while breaking down into tears.

Manish’s father was in Italy when the incident happened and after the incident in 2017 his mother also went there. After three years of struggle, the family received Rs 2 lakh as compensation from the government.

59 cases reported this year

This is not a lone case. Scores of families in the state have lost their loved ones to snake bites in the past few years. As many as 59 cases of snake bites have been reported at the civil hospital in Ludhiana this year alone with the frequency of such cases increasing during monsoon.

The risk of snake bite cases increases during the rainy season when the pits of snakes get filled with water, so they come out of it and find new shelter in the bushes.

Ludhiana is on top of the list where most of the snakes have been rescued so far. In May, the hospital received four cases, while in June, it saw 13 cases. In the month of July, the number rose to 23 cases and in August (till date), 16 cases have been witnessed.

Snake encounters on the rise

Divisional forest officer (DFO) Khushwinder Singh Gill said, “Incidents of snake encounters have been increasing over the past few years. The total number of snakes rescued from three cities in 2017 was 45. This year, the figure has shot up to around 62.”

The species of snakes commonly found include spectacled cobra, common karait and rat snake. Since January 2018, forest department has rescued five spectacled cobra, 10 common karait and 12 rat snakes from Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Kapurthala. Among these three species, cobra is said to be more venomous.

What is more worrisome is that department has witnessed around 35% increase in snake encounters this year.

Most of the calls were received from areas in Ludhiana such as Pakhowal Road, Habran Road, Dugri, BRS Nagar etc. In Jalandhar, snakes were found at Model Town, Rama Mandi and PAP Complex. Meanwhile, the industrial area was among the top area in Kapurthala where the snakes were rescued.

“If someone dies of a snake bite and approaches the forest department, then his family will get ₹2 lakh as compensation and if a person suffers injury, then Rs 30,000 will be given as compensation, DFO said

What to do when a snake bites you?

The symptoms of snakebite include two puncture wounds, swelling and redness around the wounds, pain at the bite site, difficulty in breathing, vomiting and nausea, blurred vision sweating and salivating numbness in the face and limbs.

Remove jewellery from the bitten area, let the wound bleed so that some venom could flow out of the wound. It would be better to try to suck out venom, but do not use the mouth to suck the venom and place a clean bandage over the wound.

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 13:27 IST