An eight-year-old Indian boy killed a cobra that had wrapped itself around his arm and sunk its fangs into his skin as it bit him in a miraculous tale of survival.
The boy, known only as Deepak, was attacked by the snake in the remote village of Pandarpadh in India’s central Chhattisgarh region on Monday, it was reported.
The cobra clung to him as he played outside the family home and wrapped his body around his arm, before pulling back and biting to inject its deadly poison.
Battling the pain, Deepak furiously jerked his arm but couldn’t free the reptile, at which point he decided to give the attacker a taste of his own medicine and viciously sank his own teeth into his body, successfully killing the animal.
“The snake wrapped around my hand and bit me. I was in a lot of pain,’ Deepak told the New Indian Express.
“Since the reptile didn’t move when I tried to shake it, I bit it hard twice. It all happened in a flash,” he said.
Snakebites are extremely common in India – a study published last week found that more than 85% of snakebite deaths recorded in 2019 occurred there.
Eight-year-old Deepak killed a cobra that had wrapped itself around his arm and sunk its fangs into his skin as it bit him in an incredible reversal of fortune
Deepak was attacked by a cobra, but fortunately only suffered a dry bite – the snake did not inject its deadly venom into the boy’s flesh
Fearing for Deepak’s life as a result of the bite, the boy’s parents rushed him to a nearby medical center where he was kept under observation to ensure he made a successful recovery.
An examination of his wound led doctors to discover that he had suffered a “dry bite”, meaning the cobra released no venom.
“Deepak showed no symptoms and recovered quickly from the dry bite when the poisonous snake hit, but no venom is released,” a snake expert told the New Indian Express.
Dry bites are often administered by adult snakes who have complete control over the deployment of venom from their glands.
Snakes use venom to kill their prey or to fight off dangerous predators. Dry bites are often delivered when the snake tries to warn or scare animals, rather than kill them.
The district of Jashpur where Deepak fought with the cobra is famous for its serpentine activity – there are over 200 species of snakes living in the area.
A recent study found that of the 63,000 people believed to have died from snakebites in 2019, 51,000 were killed in India.
Researchers from James Cook University in Queensland say that based on the findings, they do not believe the World Health Organization’s goal of halving the number of snakebite deaths by by 2030 will be reached.
They also pointed to poor access to antivenom in poor rural areas as one of the major contributing factors to the death toll.
Researchers at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, estimated snakebite death rates in 204 countries and territories from 1990 to 2019 (Picture: Russell’s Viper)
Age-standardized snakebite death rates for both sexes combined in 2019 in 204 countries and territories
Professor Richard Franklin, who led the study, said: “Interventions to ensure faster delivery of antivenom need to be combined with preventive strategies such as increased education and health system strengthening in communities. rural areas.
“Ensuring rapid access to antivenoms in rural areas of the world would save thousands of lives, and increased investment in designing and scaling up these interventions should be a priority to meet WHO targets on envenoming. by snakebites and neglected tropical diseases.”
For the study, published last month in Nature Communications, researchers gathered autopsy and vital registration data from Global Burden of Disease datasets.
This was used to model the proportion of poisonous animal deaths due to snakes by location, age, sex and year.
The results revealed that the majority of snake venom deaths have occurred in South Asia – the region stretching from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
In India in particular, the death rate has been calculated at four snakebite deaths per 100,000 people – well above the global average of 0.8.
In India, 90% of snakebites come from four species – the krait, Russell’s viper, saw-scaled viper and Indian cobra (pictured)
The sub-Saharan Africa region came second, with Nigeria having the highest death toll at 1,460.
Professor Franklin said that after a bite from a poisonous snake, the likelihood of death increases if antivenom is not given within six hours.
In India, 90% of snakebites come from four species: krait, Russell’s viper, saw-scaled viper and Indian cobra.
“Antivenin exists for all of these species, but preventing death from snakebite depends not only on the existence of antivenom, but also on its dissemination to rural areas and the ability of the health system to care for victims with secondary complications such as neurotoxic respiratory failure or acute kidney injury requiring dialysis,” Prof Franklin said.
While 63,000 deaths is still a lot, it is actually a 36% decrease from the number of deaths in 1990.
However, researchers predict that the number of deaths is expected to reach 68,000 in 2050, due to the increase in population.
“We expect mortality to continue to decline, but not enough to meet WHO targets,” the researchers wrote in their study.
“Improving data collection should be a priority to help target interventions, improve burden estimation and track progress.”