An app to take the sting out of snakebites | India News


MUMBAI: From remote farming villages to semi-urban and urban centers, stories about snakebite – a neglected tropical disease – abound. More than 58,000 people in the country are bitten by snakes every year and despite snakes being at the heart of human-wildlife conflict in India – it also bears the highest burden of snakebites in the world with 2.8 million cases recorded between 2000 and 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) — there is little or no awareness.
Many of these deaths could have been prevented, but limited availability of trained medical professionals and adequate antidotes have been major obstacles, especially in remote and poor communities, as well as lack of knowledge about appropriate treatment and access to it.
But now, with the help of The Swiss Institute of Tropical and Public Health (Swiss TPH) and the efforts of a Mumbai crusade against snakebites Priyanka Kadam, who was part of a group of global experts from 16 countries that helped draft the WHO’s global strategy for the prevention and control of snakebite envenomation in 2019 – a shield is available. An app-based solution called Snakebite Assistant can help bridge this healthcare gap for snakebite victims in India.
“Our project partners at TPH in Switzerland, Dr. Mauro Bodio and the Teacher Thomas Junghanss, Venomous and Venomous Animals (VAPA) worldwide, have developed a database guide that includes venomous snakes. The Snakebite Assistant app is part of the wider regional app development project as a VAPA guide database,” explained Kadam.
The free-to-download app — which uses artificial intelligence to quickly and accurately identify the type of snake responsible for the bite, as well as the best treatment — was launched on September 19 on “International Snakebite Day” and was developed. an interdisciplinary “Snakebite Working Group” comprising experts from herpetology, general surgery, toxicology, psychiatry and professors of general medicine and medicine from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Gujarat, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
In a country where snakebites feature elusively in the forensics chapters of the MBBS syllabus, doctors are not formally trained to manage snakebites and addiction to occult practices and village healers often lead to downtime and death, Kadam hopes the app will “empower people”. . and for communities to take responsibility for their own health and safety and for health professionals to provide better care for snakebite victims.’
Snakebite Assistant is designed for lay people – individuals, communities and schools, with a special focus on children who can learn about snakebite prevention through the app’s playful games – as well as healthcare professionals such as paramedics, doctors, hospital administrators and doctors. College students and teachers can learn snake identification, bite symptoms, first aid and how to provide proper medical care.
The range of snakebite management information and training materials it offers includes immediate do’s and don’ts after a snakebite, first aid that can be performed by the snake victim himself or bystanders before the patient arrives at the health facility. or the hospital, and to know what to expect when bitten by a poisonous snake, helping victims and those around them to stay calm and take appropriate measures.
In addition to real-time directions for first responders, the app is region-specific and connects victims to hospitals and medical professionals who can provide specialized snakebite care.
“The distribution of venomous snakes varies across regions and states in India. For example, Rajasthan has fewer poisonous snakes than Kerala. And in Kerala, if a patient shows clinical signs and symptoms consistent with bleeding, clotting and neurological venom, the app would automatically identify Russell’s viper as the culprit. This is important because not all venomous snakes are covered with polyvalent antivenoms, so accurate identification of the snake is key,” explains Kadam, pointing to the three tools that allow non-herpetologists to identify a snake.
“The first is a ‘syndromic’ approach to study clinical and bioecological features to narrow down possible culprits when the snake is not available for identification. The application uses patterns of envenomation caused by common venomous snakes in India to define regional clinical syndromes,” says Kadam. The second tool is a “morphological key” when available for snake identification, while the third is a photo identification tool. University of Genevawhen a picture of the snake is available.
The app’s database is constantly being updated and can be accessed even in offline or remote areas. “In the case of snakebites, the speed of accessing information and life-saving treatment can be the difference between life and death,” says Kadam, adding that there is still a long way to go to tackle the snakebite menace in India, but he is hopeful. offers a promising way forward regarding digital intervention.

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