Karnataka Mandates Reporting for Snakebite Envenoming

Malpolon monspessulanus, commonly known as the Montpellier snake, illustrating the need for Karnataka's mandatory reporting system for snakebite envenoming.
Karnataka Mandates Reporting for Snakebite Envenoming

On February 20, 2024, Karnataka's Health Department issued a directive mandating both government and private healthcare facilities to report snakebite envenoming cases and related fatalities under the provisions of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act of 2020.

The directive is in response to recent field surveys indicating significant underreporting of snakebite incidents and fatalities compared to actual occurrences, as highlighted by medical researchers and activists.

While snakebite is not considered a traditional disease, the Epidemic Diseases Act requires medical officers to report all cases and deaths to district health authorities in real-time, similar to other infectious diseases.

Experts believe that this comprehensive data collection will aid in addressing snakebite incidents, fostering better human-snake relations, and ultimately reducing mortality rates.

The mandatory reporting extends to all healthcare facilities, including small private clinics, and requires them to upload patient details onto the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP).

This data will help the health department in estimating the burden of snakebites, identifying seasonal and regional patterns, and ensuring an adequate supply of antivenom.

Discrepancies between community-based surveys estimating annual snakebite deaths (80,000 to 100,000) and official statistics (under 10,000) highlight the need for broader surveillance.

Karnataka has taken proactive measures to equip primary health centers with antivenom reserves and train field staff to minimize treatment delays and complications.

This initiative marks Karnataka as the first state in India to implement a mandatory reporting system for snakebite envenoming cases, a significant milestone in public health efforts.

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