We have started a campaign with a slogan – Rule of 11 to motivate people to attend hospital early. Infuse 100 ML of Anti Snake Venom Serum (ASVS) within 100 minutes of bite, the victim will be one hundred percent protected. As one vial contains 10 ml of ASVS, the victim will need 10 vials of ASVS – Dr Dayal Bandhu Majumdar state level resource person for snake bite training and member of National Snakebite Management

About 50 people have been killed in snakebite in West Bengal in the past one month as monsoon peaks up slowly. Though most of the snake bite victims have been reported from the districts and not in Kolkata.

Recently, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also the health minister of the state has reportedly showed her anxiety on growing snake bite deaths in West Bengal and mentioned specially about the presence of venomous snakes at Elliot Park during her routine daily walk at a Doctors’ Day programme in Kolkata.

officials were barged with calls from the districts requesting to catch poisonous snakes. The torrential downpour has only worsened to their misery, feels herpetologists. In recent years, the growing human – pachyderm conflict in the districts of South Bengal has been capturing most of the media headlines, but the casualties due to snakebites are far more than that caused by the Dalma elephant herds.

Talking to The Statesman today, Dr Dayal Bandhu Majumdar, state level resource person for snake bite training and member of National Snakebite Management, and also author of several books on snake bites said that most of the snake bite death cases have been due to common krait (Bungarus caeruleus) bite.

The common kraits venom consists mostly of powerful neurotoxins, which induce muscle paralysis.

“Most of the snake bite death cases have been reported from districts like East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Nadia, Burdwan east, Burdwan West, Nadia, Purulia districts,” informed Dr Dayal Bandhu Majumdar. The state health department has started social awareness campaign for snake bite victims through flex boards and hoardings urging people to take the victims to the hospitals nearest to their houses and not to go to big hospitals first. “We have started a campaign with a slogan – Rule of 11 to motivate people to attend hospital early. Infuse 100 ML of Anti Snake Venom Serum (ASVS) within 100 minutes of bite, the victim will be one hundred percent protected. As one vial contains 10 ml of ASVS, the victim will need 10 vials of ASVS,” added Dr Dayal Bandhu Majumdar. In West Bengal, around 3,500 people are killed by snake bites every year.

Out of them, 80 per cent death cases reported were due to Russels Viper (chandrabora) bites, which took place in the past two years.

The major problem is that the ASVS produced from the Naja Naja (or spectacled cobra) venom collected by ISCICS in South India failed to neutralise bite victims of Russels viper and Naja Kouthia (keute) and even common krait in West Bengal as their chemical composition is different. Recently, the Bankura sammilani Medical College hospital, has become the first medical college hospital in the country to propose to set up a venom production, research and educational laboratory to produce snake specific ASVS, the second in the country after Irula in Tamil Nadu.

In Bankura’s proposed laboratory, the snakes which will be kept are –spectacled cobra Naja Naja (30), monocellate cobra (35), Russels Viper (40) and Common Indian Krait (50) with a total estimated annual venom yield of 355.02 grams, according to the DPR submitted to the government.

The venom extraction centre will consist of snake quarantine, snake housing, venom extraction, venom processing and preservation, quality control laboratory, animal house to rear rats and mice, office and staff quarters. The snake catchers will be trained and will be provided with identity cards. Snakebite units will be developed in all district hospitals and sufficient quantity of ASVS will be stored as part of chain of survival strategy for snakebite victims of the state, according to the draft proposal.