Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 199-202
Demographic, epidemiologic and clinical profile of snake bite cases, presented to Emergency Medicine department, Ahmedabad, Gujarat


Department of Emergency Medicine, Smt. NHL M Medical College, VS General Hospital, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

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Date of Submission10-Jan-2013
Date of Acceptance18-Jun-2013
Date of Web Publication20-Jul-2013
 

   Abstract 

Aim: Snake bite is a common medical emergency faced mainly by the rural populations in tropical and subtropical countries with heavy rainfall and humid climate. Although India is a single largest contributor of snake bite cases, reporting is very poor. There is hardly any publication of the same from Gujarat state that is developing at a good pace. Hence, we aimed to study the snake bite cases with particular attention to demography, epidemiology, and clinical profile. Settings and Design: The present descriptive, observational study was carried out at the Emergency Medicine Department of a tertiary care center in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. This department is one if the firsts to get recognized by the Medical Council of India. Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional single-center study. Cases were entered into the prescribed form, and detailed information regarding demographic, epidemiologic, and clinical parameters was entered. Statistical Method: Data were analyzed using Epi2000. Means and frequencies for each variable were calculated. Results: Majority (67.4%) of the snake bite victims were in the age group between 15 and 45 years. Majority were male victims (74.2%). 71% victims of snake bite lived in rural areas. Farmers and laborers were the main victims. 61.2% incidents took place at night time or early morning (before 6 a.m.). 64% patients had bite mark on the lower limb. 40% victims had seen the snake. Eight patients had snake bite, but were asymptomatic. 52% had neuroparalytic manifestation, 34% were asymptomatic, and 9.6% had hemorrhagic manifestation. 14% cases received treatment within 1 h of the bite and 64.84% within 1-6 h after the bite. First aid given was in the form of application of tourniquet (16.2%), local application of lime, chillies, herbal medicine, etc., (1%). 2.20% cases were sensitive to anti-snake venom. Only three patients died. Conclusion: In this region (Gujarat), neuroparalytic manifestation of snake bite is more prevalent. Cobra and krait are the commonest types of poisonous snakes. The time of seeking treatment has reduced because of awareness about snake bite treatment and better transport and ambulance facility. Mortality is very less in well-equipped hospitals due to early initiation of treatment with anti-snake venom.

Keywords: Anti-snake venom, first aid treatment, Gujarat, poisoning, snake bite

How to cite this article:
Jarwani B, Jadav P, Madaiya M. Demographic, epidemiologic and clinical profile of snake bite cases, presented to Emergency Medicine department, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. J Emerg Trauma Shock 2013;6:199-202

How to cite this URL:
Jarwani B, Jadav P, Madaiya M. Demographic, epidemiologic and clinical profile of snake bite cases, presented to Emergency Medicine department, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. J Emerg Trauma Shock [serial online] 2013 [cited 2020 Feb 19];6:199-202. Available from: http://www.onlinejets.org/text.asp?2013/6/3/199/115343



   Introduction Top


Snake bite is a common life-threatening condition in many tropical countries; farmers, hunters, and rice pickers are at particular risk and prompt medical treatment is vital. [1] In India, the most important species are cobras (Naja naja, N. oxiana, N. kaouthia), common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), Russell's viper (Daboia russelii), and E. carintus. [2]

India is the largest single contributor to the global tally of snake bite deaths, with the numbers ranging between 15,000 and 50,000 a year. Accurate statistics are not available and there is no standardized reporting of bites and identification of snakes. [3]

Many victims are treated by various kinds of traditional healers. Small surveys have suggested an annual death rate of 1/10,000 in the early 20 th century and 3.1/100,000 in the 1950s. [4]


   Materials and Methods Top


The present descriptive, cross-sectional, observational study was carried out in Emergency Medicine Department, VS General Hospital, Smt. NHL Municipal Medical College, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. This is one of the first EM departments in India to be recognized by the Medical Council of India. This hospital receives patients from almost all regions of Gujarat.

Ethical committee approval was taken. After obtaining their consent, data were collected on pre-designed, pre-tested, and structured questionnaire by interviewing the study subjects who were hospitalized during the study period.

However, children were not included in the study as there is separate entry point for pediatrics department in this hospital.

Detailed information was collected regarding demographic and epidemiologic parameters such as age, sex, residence, occupation, site of bite and place of bite, type of snake, time interval between snake bite and receiving medical treatment (particularly ante-snake venom). Thorough clinical examination was carried out to identify the type of snake bite (vasculotoxic, neuroparalytic, and nonpoisonous).

Statistical analysis

Statistical tests were applied to calculate the frequencies and means of different variables studied. Epi2000 software was used for this analysis.


   Results Top


A total of 156 cases of snake bite were admitted in the hospital during the study period. Among them, 116 (74.2%) were males and 40 (25.8%) were females.

Majority (71%) of the victims were in the age group of 15-35 years [Figure 1]. Means of age group was 32 ± 5.4 years.
Figure 1: Age-wise distribution of snake bite victims

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Majority of the cases (71%) were from rural area and only 29% were from urban area. Among the rural patients, 70.23% cases were bitten in the farms, followed by 24.86% in the houses.

Regarding the occupation of the study subjects, 53.40% cases were farm laborers, 17.80% were farmers, and 28.80% were having other occupations like government servants, housewives, students, etc.

The site of bite was on lower extremity for 62.27% cases, followed by 34.36% on upper extremity, 2.06% on head, neck, and face, and only 0.78% on the trunk [Table 1].
Table 1: Bite site in the affected victims

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In the majority (54%) of cases, the timing of snake bite was night or early morning; however, in 32.3% cases, the snake bite took place at daytime [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Timing of snake bite

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In 64.5% patients, either the victim or the bystander had seen the snake. As per their description and the photos or snakes that they had brought, the main types of snakes were either krait or viper. In 70% patients, bite mark was seen. Among these, 72% had two clear, distinct bite marks.

Regarding the clinical types, 51% were neuroparalytic snake bites, while 35.5% were asymptomatic. To our surprise, 1.2% had both neuroparalytic and hemorrhagic manifestations [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Clinical presentation of the snake bite victims

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Majority (65.4%) had developed symptoms within 1 h of the snake bite; however, few (3.8%) developed symptoms as late as 12 h.

Majority of the cases (84.84%) reached the health care unit within 1-6 h, among which 16.07% reached within 1 h of the bite [Figure 4], 42.3% got treatment between 1 and 3 h, and 30.6% in 4-6 h time span. Among the late presentations, 6.20% visited the health care unit within 6-12 h, 4.13% within 12-24 h, and 7.49% visited more than 24 h after the bite.
Figure 4: Time gap in receiving definite treatment

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First aid given was in the form of application of tourniquet (16.2%), local application of lime, chillies, herbal medicine, etc., (6.5%). 2.20% cases were sensitive to anti-snake venom (ASV). Only three patients died, of whom two presented very late with neuroparalytic manifestations. Two victims had dual presentation.


   Discussion Top


In the present study, the incidence of snake bite was found to be 86% in the age group of 15-45 years, which is the active age group involved in various outdoor activities, and so, is more prone for snake bites. Similar findings were observed in other studies. [1],[2]

Male (74.2%) victims were more in number than female victims. The reason for this is males are more involved in outdoor activities compared to females. Male predominance in cases of snake bites was also observed in other studies. [3],[4]

71% victims of snake bite were from rural areas. Farmers and laborers were the main victims. This is because still the farmers and migrant laborers are not using good protective shoes, etc., for their safety. Also, still in India, the contractors are not providing good-quality shoes, etc., for workers' safety. 64% patients had bite mark on the lower limb.

Apart from farm bites, other incidents took place in the house, reflecting people still having the habit of sleeping out of the house and poor housing (Kachcha Makan) conditions.

55.8% incidents took place at night time or early morning (before 6 a.m.). This reflects the people in rural areas still sleeping at night out of the house and not taking care of their protection. Similar residential differences in snake bite cases were also observed by other authors. [3],[4],[5]

40% victims had seen the snake. Regarding clinical presentation, 52% were having neuroparalytic manifestations, 34% were asymptomatic, and 9.6% were having hemorrhagic manifestations. This reflects that many victims get panicked and are brought in ED even though they do not have poisonous manifestation. This also reflects increased awareness about the snake bite mortality among the general population.

14% cases received treatment within 1 h of the bite and 64.84% within 1-6 h after the bite. Few workers have observed that 85.0% patients were admitted to the hospital within 24 h after the snake bite, and of these, 7.4% were admitted within 1 h. [5] Others, [6] however, have reported that 78.0% cases were admitted within 24 h after the bite and only 6.6% cases were admitted within the first hour. This reflects the fact that persons in rural areas are also aware about the snake bite and early treatment. Good transport and ambulance services may also be the factors.

37.72% cases reached the hospital without any first aid treatment. Among those who received first aid treatment, maximum followed application of tourniquet proximal to the site of bite (16.2%) and local application of lime, chilies, herbal medicine, etc., (6.5%). No incidences of sucking or local incisions were there. Same form of first aid treatment was observed by other authors. [4],[5],[6]

In this study, nonpoisonous snake bite cases formed 31.78%. Highest nonpoisonous snake bite cases were observed by Bhardwaj and Sokhey [7] in 1998 (90.5%), followed by Bakshi [1] in 1999 (61.59%), Bawaskar and Bawaskar [8] in 2002 (49.5%), and Saini [9] et al. in 1984 (41.5%). Kulkarni and Anees (1994) [6] and Hansdak [10] et al. (1998) reported 24.3% and 19.0% nonpoisonous snake bite cases, respectively. In other studies, nonpoisonous snake bites were reported to be between 19.0% and 90.5%. [1],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10] This variation in nonpoisonous snake bite cases may be due to variation in the geographic distribution of poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes in various parts of the country. [11],[12]

In the present study, only 6.20% cases were sensitive to ASV. Those who were sensitive to ASV were treated with steroids, anti-histamine, and other supportive measures. In different studies, the range of hypersensitivity to ASV was from as low as 1.3% to as high as 52.0%. [6],[10]

No allergic reaction to repeated ASV injections was reported by Nigam et al. (1974). [13] The probable reason for this may be administration of corticosteroids to 14 patients of cobra and viper bite out of 22 poisonous snake bite cases by the author.

Only three patients died. The overall mortality rate in the present study was 1.68%. This is much lower than that reported in other studies. [6],[9],[10] This may be because of increased awareness among the general population, better and early transport, early administration of ASV, better ventilator care, etc., However, the mortality rate after snake bite depends upon various factors like type of snake bite, amount of venom injected, site of bite (serious if bitten on the trunk or head, neck, and face), species and size of the snakes, the extent of its anger or fear, the presence of bacteria in the mouth of the snake or on the skin of the victim. It also depends on exertion, i.e., running immediately after the bite, age, size, and health of the patient.


   Conclusion Top


In this region (Gujarat, India), neuroparalytic manifestation of snake bite is more prevalent and cobra and krait are the commonest types of poisonous snake bites. The time of seeking treatment has reduced because of awareness about snake bite treatment and better transport facility. Mortality is very less in well-equipped hospitals due to early initiation of treatment with ASV. Hypersensitivity to ASV can be better managed by intravenous steroid and anti-histaminic medications.


   Acknowledgments Top


We are indebted to Dr. S. T. Malhan, Professor and Head, Department of Medicine, Dr. Surma Modi, Head of the Emergency Medicine Department, and Dr. Pankaj Patel, Dean for their constant support for the study.

 
   References Top

1.Jones AL, Karalliedde L. Poisoning. in: Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. In: Boon NA, Colledge NR, Walker BR, editors. 20 th ed. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2006. p. 203-26.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Warrell DA. Injuries, envenoming, poisoning and allergic reactions caused by animals. In: Warrel DA, Cox TM, Firth JD, editor. Oxford Textbook of Medicine. 4 th edn, Vol. 1. New York: Oxford University Press; 20003. p. 923-46.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Bakshi SA. Snake bites in rural area of Maharashtra state, India. Trop Doct 1999;29:104-5.  Back to cited text no. 3
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4.Bambery P. Snake Bites and Arthropod Envenomation. In: Shah SN, editor. API Textbook of Medicine. 8 th edn. Mumbai: The Association of Physicians of India Publication; 2008. p. 1517-20.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Lahori UC, Sharma DB, Gupta KB, Gupta AK. Snake bite poisoning in children. Indian Pediatr 1981;18:193-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
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6.Kulkarni ML, Anees S. Snake venom poisoning: experience with 633 cases. Indian Pediatr 1994;31:1239-43.  Back to cited text no. 6
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7.Bhardwaj A, Sokhey J. Snake bites in the hills of North India. Natl Med J India 1998;11:264-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
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8.Bawaskar HS, Bawaskar PH. Profile of snake bite envenoming in western Maharashtra, India. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 2002;96:79-84.  Back to cited text no. 8
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9.Saini RK, Sharma S, Singh S, Pathania NS. Snake bite poisoning: A preliminary report. J Assoc Physicians India 1984;32:195-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
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10.Hansdak SG, Lallar KS, Pokharel P, Shyangwa P, Karki P, Koirala S. A clinico-epidmilogical study of snake bite in Nepal. Trop Doct 1998;28:223-6.  Back to cited text no. 10
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11.Theakston RD, Phillips RE, Warrell DA, Galagedera Y, Abeysekera DT, Dissanayaka P, et al.Envenoming by common krait (Bungarus caeruleus) and Sri Lankan cobra (Naja naja naja): Efficacy and complications of therapy with Haffkine antivenom. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 1990;84:301-8  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.Banerjee RN. Poisonous snakes of India, their venoms, symptomatology and treatment of envenomation. In: Ahuja MM, editor. Progress in Clinical Medicine in India. Vol 2. New Delhi: Arnold Heinemann Publishers; 1978. p. 136-79.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.Nigam P, Tandon VK, Rajendra Kumar, Thacore VR, Lal N. Snake bite: A clinical study. Indian J Med Sci 1974;27:697-704.  Back to cited text no. 13
    

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Correspondence Address:
Bhavesh Jarwani
Department of Emergency Medicine, Smt. NHL M Medical College, VS General Hospital, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0974-2700.115343

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