The deceased, S Pushpa (22) of Nazarethpet, an MSc graduate, was married to R Kannappan and is said to be three months pregnant. Kannappan, who works as a supervisor at a manufacturing unit of two-wheeler spare parts in the locality, was out for work on Monday when the incident happened.
Pushpa, who was speaking to her neighbours sitting outside her house on Monday evening, suddenly fell unconscious. Since she started foaming in the mouth, they checked her physique and found a snakebite mark on her leg.
She was rushed to a private hospital in the locality and since they did not have the facility to treat her, she was rushed to Kilpauk Medical College Hospital in an ambulance. However, doctors declared her brought dead.
On information, the Nazarethpet police have registered a case and further inquiry is on. The police said that it is not clear when the snake bit her as she suddenly collapsed while talking to her neighbours and did not complain of any pain to them. Her viscera samples have been sent to the forensic lab to ascertain whether her death was caused by the venom.
Lack of antivenom raises concern
With three persons dying of snake bites in the past week, concerns have been raised over the availability of antivenom Serum (AVS) at primary health centres (PHC) and other government healthcare facilities.
Inquiries with a handful of PHCs in Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram revealed that most of them do not stock AVS and refer snakebite victims to larger hospitals.
However, senior physicians at the toxicology department of RGGGH claimed that the State is among the foremost in treating snakebite victims. “We have WHO recognised centres and Intensive Care Facility (ICF) for the management and training of snakebite victims.
There are also ventilators, dialysis facilities, uninterrupted supply of antivenom and supporting departments like nephrology and surgical,” said Dr Raghunanthanan, Head of Toxicology Department, RGGGH.
“Being a referral hospital, we get cases from Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram, we get around two or three patients per day,” he added.
Dr Raghunathan said that while only 30 per cent of snakebites were life-threatening, all victims should rush to the nearest government facility. “AVS is available even at PHCs and secondary care hospitals in TN,” he said.
A government doctor said that there are four major poisonous snakes in Tamil Nadu — cobra, russell’s viper, saw-scaled viper, and krait.
“Recently, we were given the training to treat patients with snakebite at Tamil Nadu Accident Initiative (TAI) programme. Similarly, we have also trained other government hospital staff.
There is an Emergency Care Center at Tambaram Government Hospital, if the patient is brought critically, they will be taken there for treatment.” said Dr Palaniswamy, Chief Medical Officer, Tambaram Government Hospital.
According to Koladaiswamy, Director of Public Health, all government doctors have a protocol to treat the patients. “The public should keep their surroundings clean to avoid snakes from entering their house or workplace. While walking after nightfall, try carrying a stick and tap it on the ground which to ward off snakes,” he said.
He also advised patients to not walk or run if the bite was on the foot. “People use knives and blades to remove the venom from the wound. It is important to note to not poke the wound or tie a cloth over it,” Kolandaiswamy added.