“We need to act now to deal effectively with this problem, which causes severe disability, brings misery to families and which kills thousands of people.”
—Lorenzo Savioli, WHO Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases
And this is the reason that I have come down to Vellore just a day after my marriage for the workshop for finalizing the protocol of SSSSSSNAKES-India.(National Snakebite Survey : Survey of Snake Species, Syndromes, Snake-bite outcomes, and anti-Snake venom requirements in India .)
Officially the study is being titled as “A National survey of Snake bites in India (venomous and non-venomous): syndrome-snake species correlations, outcomes and ASV dose requirements for the Indian Sub-continent” and once the protocol is finalised that is expected to run across the nations in more than about 15 centres across the nation.
The protocol development workshop is being jointly organised by the Toxicology Special Interest group and the South Asian Cochrane Network and Centre. The two day workshop being attended by international experts from diverse background . Clinicians, proteomics experts . community physicians, herpetologists, wildlife conservationists , public health professionals , anti-snake venom manufacturers – the workshop is being attended by all . It aims to understand and document the snake bite management practise in each hospital, training and method of collection, storage and identification of dead snakes and hence finalise the protocol for this national study. It will also explore the potential for the use of venom detection tests in the study.
With identification of snake-bites being a major issue due to cultural, social as well as knowledge issues clinicians mainly rely on an approach based on signs and symptoms (syndromic approach)> However the syndromic approach has not been validated in India and hence physicians are basically playing blind when treating snakebite victims-relying primarily on the data being available from foreign nations whose snakebite population is substantially different from that in India. India which has more than 200 snake species with about a quarter of them being known to be poisonous and substantial regional variation this is an area of substantial concern. The study to be the largest study and one of its kind is expected to sort out this problem and will help clinicians in the sub-continent where millions are dying due to snakebites.
Read my feature titled Snakebite: a forgotten problem at the British Medical Journal
Medical Doctor, Independent Researcher and Freelance writer, Kolkata.