Saturday, 13 July, 2024, Reg No- 06
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Do not panic over Russell’s Viper

Published : Monday, 24 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 507

Deaths caused due to snake bites are not a new phenomenon in Bangladesh.

However, a particular poisonous snake named Russells Viper in recent weeks has triggered terror resulting in a widespread panic across the country. So far, 18 deaths coupled with at least 68 hospital admissions have been reported of the snakes attacks. And all these deaths and admissions have been reported during the last 18 months.

The snake, which is normally found in dry areas, has adapted to different climate conditions, and has now spread to more than 25 districts in Bangladesh. Interestingly, the snake was declared extinct in Bangladesh in 2002 but the species has now returned with a renewed vengeance.

From environmental and climactic perspectives, excessive humidity, rising sea level, increased salinity in our river waters are a few reasons behind the Vipers rapid breeding. Such abrupt climactic changes are not only conducive for the vipers survival, but also aided in its reproductive health. The snake is infiltrating from the Indian part adjacent to our Rajshahi area, swimming through Ganges and Padma Rivers.

A recent study found that it spreads through the rivers itself. The snakes are frequently sighted in both lower and uppers areas of Padma. Moreover, as it feeds on rodents, the Russells Viper is often found near human settlements and in farmland particularly during harvest season.

Thus, it is crucial to ensure round-the-clock monitoring at farmlands and alert our farmers.  

From the snakes reproductive practices, it gives birth directly, not lay eggs. So, their survival rate is high. This snake was already present in Barind region. The region previously used to have one crop per year. Now there are multiple crop seasons. This ultimately increased rat and rodent population due to more crops. And due to abundance of rodents, such as mouse and rats, the Vipers are also breeding fast in alarming numbers.

Nevertheless, need of the hour demands launching a countrywide awareness programme with the help of both mainstream and social media. Panicking would only worsen the crisis. While prompt medical intervention can fast and surely cure the Vipers victims, it is essential to increase supply and distribution of anti-venoms in districts at high risk.

We advise to engage community clinics in remote regions, train up doctors and paramedics on an urgent basis and equip all public hospitals with sufficient stocks of anti-venoms.

Needs be mentioned - with or without the Russells Viper - some 7,000 people die because of snake bites in Bangladesh every year. And due to global warming, rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions the situation, in all its probabilities, is likely to get worse before getting better.

One can never predict which snake would be the next big threat to emerge out.

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