WhatsApp for a cause: to help snake bite victims

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By: Jose Louies, Founder, IndianSnakes

The IndianSnakes WhatsApp helpline for snakes and snake bite victims at work

“Can I send you the picture of the snake over WhatsApp?” asked an urgent, unapologetic voice at the other end of the call which had woken me up in the middle of the night. The man was calling from Odisha and a snake in his house had just bitten his older brother. They were on their way to a local faith healer and needless to say, his brother was scared to death. Thankfully, the educated man had gone online looking for snakebite remedies and had stumbled upon our 24x7 helpline numbers (given below) on snake species identification which also helps in dealing with snake bite cases.

Fortunately the snake seemed to be a common wolf snake, which is completely non-venomous and I requested that the brother not be taken to a faith healer but to the nearest PHC, where the patient could be kept under observation just to make sure no symptoms of envenomation showed. In the dark, especially in rural households, there can always be a possibility of confusing a venomous and non-venomous snake such as a common krait and a common wolf snake, which look quite similar to each other. 

The short of the long story: next morning we got a smiling picture of a very relieved family with the patient grinning the broadest that he was perfectly healthy, with no signs of having being bitten by a venomous snake!

This was about two years ago. From this we further developed the helpline into a separate WhatsApp group to have a panel of doctors who are experts on snake bites, on call with us at all times of the day and night. Whatever snake bite cases come to our main helpline numbers, we refer them to our panel of experts as and when needed. Our helpline is open 24x7 and we deal with any emergency, from any part of the country. We provide as much help possible which includes getting an expert doctor to talk to the doctor treating the patient and help in procuring anti-snake venom if there is a need. 

Snake bites can be successfully treated in hospitals in time with the use of anti-snake venom and till now that is the only scientifically proven treatment for snake bites. Many people end up losing their lives because valuable time was lost visiting quacks and tantrik healers. Since more than 90% of snakes in India are non-venomous and hence the bite ratio is also the same, the tantriks rely on sheer probability in saving a person’s life. Their cures have no effect on venomous bites. Remember- the first hour with the proper first aid is always crucial. Facts, prevention and first aid of snake bites can be found here.

You can send your snake and snake bite related queries to +91-9745003075 , +91-9818062986 and +91-7828392260.