Anatomy And Habits Of Indian Snakes Biology Essay

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Anatomy And Habits Of Indian Snakes Biology Essay

In the fourth century BC India was invaded by Alexander the Greats army which was accompanied by a number of Macedonian physicians and observers They were impressed by the achievements of the local Ayurvedic practitioners particularly in the treatment of snake bite 1 Unfortunately the legacy of ancient skills experience and wisdom may have held back rather than encouraged the application of modern scientific research methods to manage this continuing scourge of rural life in India 2In India snake envenomation is a huge public health problem but unfortunately it hasnt got its due attention There is scant information on epidemiology and minimal research on anti venom Most of the quoted figures on snake bite are hospital based though most bites occur in villages and among poor population who rely largely on traditional treatment Recent Global Snake Bite Initiative of the International Society on Toxicology and by the World Health Organisation is expected to throw more light on epidemiology and treatment of snake bites 3 Of the 3000 or so snake species that exist in the world only about 15 are venomous Venomous snakes exist on every continent except Antarctica In India the Big Four Cobra Krait Saw scaled and Russels viper are the key poisonous snakes4Though the hospital records show only 1300 annual deaths but a recent Nationally Representative Mortality Survey puts this figure to approx 45900 deaths a year Snakebite remains an underestimated cause of accidental death in modern India Community education appropriate training of medical staff and better distribution of antivenom especially in the states with the high prevalence could reduce snakebite deaths in India5

Historical Background Since time immemorial snake has been an object of worship in many countries According to Hindu mythology this world is resting on a manyheaded cobra Lord Vishnu lies on Sheshnag The Cobra coils around Lord Shiva Old Egyptian nobility are pictured with cobra hood on their forehead Some cultures held snakes in high esteem as powerful religious symbols Quetzalcoati the mythical plumed serpent was worshipped as the master of life by ancient Aztecs of Central America Some African cultures worshipped rock pythons and considered the killing of one to be a serious crime In Australia the Aborigines associated a giant rainbow serpent with the creation of life In Jewish texts in the old Maya civilization in Kundalini yoga theosophy and in many medieval society emblems the world over snakes form an essential symbol This shows how intimate has been the historical social and mythological association of snakes with the mankind and no wonder the cobra is worshipped in India on Naga Panchami day Ayurvedic texts written by Vagbhata and Sushruta have given in fair detail the classification of snakes according to their symptoms and their poisoning There are many stories about constrictors particularly anacondas in the Amazon and pythons in the east which are said to have strangled adult humans these need to be treated with great deal of skepticism 6710

In practice it is only the poisonous snakes that are of interest Poisoning from snake bite is an important medical emergency in Africa South America India Pakistan and greater part of south East Asia

Epidemiology

As snake bite is not a notifiable illness there is little reliable information on incidence of snakebite in many parts of the world Snake bite is an important occupational injury affecting farmers plantation workers herders and fishermen Openstyle habitation and the practice of sleeping on the floor also expose people to bites from nocturnal snakes Bites are more frequent in young men and generally occur on lower limbs The incidence of snake bites is higher during the rainy season and during periods of intense agricultural activity 6 Available data shows 3000040000 deaths from snakebites every year but this figure probably is an underestimate 8 because of incomplete reporting Recent global estimates

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