Toxicology

Snake bite

Due to a lack of availability of antivenom, and in many instances due to the unavailability of antivenom with good pharmacotherapeutic effectiveness, venomous snakebite patients receive inadequate treatment. An accurate measure of the global burden of snakebite envenoming remains elusive apart from a few countries, reliable figures on incidence, morbidity, and mortality are scarce. South Asia is by far the most affected region from snake bite. India has the highest number of deaths due to snake bites in the world with 35,000-50,000 people dying per year according to World Health Organization (WHO). In Pakistan, 40,000 bites are reported annually, which result in up to 8,200 fatalities. In Nepal, more than 20,000 cases of envenoming occur each year, with 1,000 recorded deaths and in Sri Lanka, around 33,000 envenomed snake bite victims are reported annually from government hospitals.

Ministry of Health data show that occurrence of snakebite occurs over all Districts of the country, and deaths continue to occur in most Districts.

In 2007 there was a total of 39,321 hospital admissions from snakebite, and 91 in-hospital deaths were reported. However, the approximation of this value is an underestimation of the actuality. Mortality from snakebite in the Sri Lanka is one of the highest in the world as epidemiological studies in the past have revealed 6 deaths per 100,000 population. In 2008 there were 58 deaths out of 38,683 reported snakebites. Males are 1.5 time more prone to snake bites than female causing approximately 3 times more death in males comparatively. Although deaths have appeared to be trending downward along the years, they continue to be a significant cause of regional mortality.

Sources:
Antivenom for snakebite envenoming in Sri Lanka: The need for geographically specific antivenom and improved efficacy.

The Global Burden of Snakebite: A Literature Analysis and Modelling Based on Regional Estimates of Envenoming and Deaths.