Retrospective study on epidemiology of snakebites in Sarpang District, southern Bhutan

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Bal Krishna Koirala
Jaganath Koirala
Sunil Sapkota


Although snake bite envenomation is considered as a medical emergency with significant morbidity and mortality, accurate figures on snakebite envenomation remains scarce.  We conducted a retrospective study to evaluate the snakebite epidemiology in Sarpang District located in the subtropical zone of southern Bhutan.  In this study, 78 snakebite cases treated in Gelephu Referral Hospital over a period of three years from 2013 to 2015 were evaluated based on the statistical record maintained by the medical administration.  Twenty-eight (35.89%) cases developed signs and symptoms of envenomation and the remaining 50 (64.01%) were found to be cases of non-venomous bites.  Forty-four males and 34 females were found to be affected by snakebites within the period.  While snakebites were observed in all age groups, the large majority (n=51, 65.38%) were in adults aged between 21 and 50 years.  Most of the venomous bites (68%) occurred during the monsoon season, particularly between May and August.  It was found that adults in the economically productive age group were the ones most affected by poisonous bites.  There is an urgent need for development and adoption of snakebite management guidelines and awareness among the vulnerable sections of the population, improvement of medical facilities in referral hospitals and rural health centres, and reduction of the morbidity and mortality associated with snakebites.

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Author Biographies

Bal Krishna Koirala, Jigme Dorji National Park, Department of Forests and Park Services, P.O box 13001, Gasa 13001, Bhutan

B.K. Koirala is forester by profession and currently working as Sr. Forest Ranger in Jigme Dorji National Park, under Department of Forests and Park Services. He looks after Species Conservation and Monitoring Section in Park’s Headquarter, Damji, Gasa. His areas of interest include biodiversity documentation, particularly in the field of herpetofauna. Currently engage in small scale project on species diversity and spatial distribution of amphibians of Jigme Dorji National Park. 

Jaganath Koirala, Sherubtse College, School of Life Science, Royal University of Bhutan, P.O. box 42002, Kanglung, Tashigang 42002, Bhutan

Jaganath Koirala has completed BSc in Live Science from Sherubtse College, Royal University of Bhutan Kanglung, Tashigang. His areas of interest include biodiversity documentation and wildlife conservation. Currently engage in helping research activities mainly in the field of herpetofauna. 

Sunil Sapkota, College of Natural Resources, Department of Forestry, Lobesa, P.O box 13001, Kuruthang, Punakha 13001, Bhutan

Sunil Sapkota started his career as a volunteer snake rescuer since 2008 by rescuing snakes in the vicinity of Chitwan National Park, Nepal. He is doing BSc degree in forestry, final year student of forestry faculty in College of Natural Resources under Royal University Bhutan. Currently he is also active volunteer snake rescuer in locality.


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