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Snakebite and its management in rural West Bengal: The unspoken truth

Aditi Chaudhuri, Siddalingaiah H S, Partha Pratim Pal, Murari Mohan Mondal, Raghunath Misra.


Background: Snakebite is a common medical emergency in tropical India where agriculture is a major source of earning livelihood. Snakebite has a significant impact on human health and economy. The situation worsens when the majority of snakebite victims adopt harmful practices such as application of tourniquets due to prevalent myths and misconceptions.

Objectives: The objective of the study was to study the socio-demographic profile of the study population, to estimate the prevalence of snakebite in the study area, and to assess the knowledge and treatment seeking behavior of the study population regarding snakebite and its management.

Materials and Methods: A total of 135 households of Muchisa village of West Bengal were selected by consecutive sampling and one adult member of the household was interviewed with a pre-designed schedule.

Results: Majority of the study population were in the age group of 30–60 years (69.5%), females (52.6%), and Hindu (74.8%). Nearly 59.1% (100) of the population were educated up to primary level. Nearly 15.56% of the study population in our study gave a history of snakebite. Nearly 81.1% of study population correctly differentiated between poisonous and nonpoisonous snakebites based on signs and symptoms of the victim. When asked about why snakebite, the villagers said that snakebite when they were touched (57.04%) or hit (33.33%). About 57.78% of the population believed that snakebite can be managed by traditional faith healers (Ojha). The majority preferred tying a tourniquet/similar material above the bite mark.

Conclusion: It is essential to communicate about the appropriate management of a snakebite victim to the communities at risk of snakebite.

Key words: Snakebite; Traditional Management; Faith Healers; Myths; Misconceptions

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