Karnataka Mandates Reporting of Snakebite Deaths

On February 20, 2024, the Health Department of Karnataka state directed all government and private health facilities to compulsorily notify snakebite envenoming cases and resultant fatalities by invoking provisions of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act enacted in 2020.

The Policy Trigger

The notification follows recent field surveys indicating gross under-reporting of snakebite incidents and mortality numbers in official administrative data compared to ground reality as highlighted by medical researchers and activists, although snakebite is not a ‘disease’ in the traditional sense.

The Scope

As per the Epidemic Diseases Act which contains provisions for tracking any disease with outbreak potential, medical officers need to now notify all snakebite cases and deaths to district health authorities on a real-time basis similar to other dangerous pathogens.
As per experts, this data coupled with other interventions, will go a long way in addressing snakebites, reducing the animosity that exists between humans and snakes and eventually lead to fewer mortality.

Monitoring Projected Impact

While morbidity and mortality data maintained by state health directorates is already collected from hospitals, mandatory notification even by small private clinics would significantly widen coverage allowing actual public disease burden estimation critical for health resource allocation.


The government notification noted that, all government and private hospitals and medical institutes must compulsorily notify all cases of in-patients and out-patients seeking treatment or dying due to snake bites by uploading their details on the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP).
This data will also help the state health department understand the burden of snakebites, track any seasonal and regional variations, and prepare an adequate stock of the antivenom required for treatment.

Bridging the Numbers Gap

Recent community based surveys have pegged India’s annual snakebite deaths between 80,000 to 1,00,000 while National Health Profile statistics compiled from state health departments indicate under 10,000 fatalities. Hence wider surveillance was vital.
As per a report and data from the Department of Health and Family Welfare, in 2023 alone (between January and October) the state recorded 5,316 snakebites.

Ongoing Mitigation Efforts

Karnataka has been equipping primary health centres across rural hinterlands with anti-venom reserves aided by NGO networks to cut treatment delays alongside training field staff on efficient diagnosis and clearance protocols minimizing complications. Several institutions celebrates the landmark decision of Karnataka becoming the first state in India to declare snakebite.


Leave a Reply