As many as 10,000 people die each year in rural Tamil Nadu due to snake bites, according to a survey by UK-based University of Reading.
The university surveyed 30,000 households in rural areas of the state to understand how frequently snake bites occur and its health and socio-economic impact.
Associate professor of the varsity Shaktivel Vaaiyapuri told reporters here on Saturday the study revealed that four per cent of the people surveyed had suffered snake bites and they disproportionately affect the agricultural workers.
A total of 79 per cent who had been bitten were in the fields and 72 per cent were working at the time, he said.
A further 19 per cent were bitten while walking close to home and the great majority - 82 per cent were bitten on the leg or foot and 16 per cent on the lower arm or hand, Vaiyapuri said.
Stating that the socio-economic impact of this was considerable in terms of the cost of treatment, loss of working days and lost income as well as the long-term impact on health, disability and the ability to work, he said.
Most victims (84 per cent) were in hospital for less than a week, 14 per cent between one and three months and almost half (47 per cent) suffered no major economic loss, he said.
Lack of knowledge of essential first aid and correct treatment often led to complications and worsened patients outcome, he said.
Stating that the government should increase public awareness about snakebites through an extensive campaign, Vaiyapuri suggested that government should also provide complete cover for snake bite treatment through medical policy schemes to seek prompt treatment in any hospital, including private ones.
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