Quacks Give ‘Acid Treatment’ For Snakebite, CM’s Help Sought

Bhubaneswar: A non-profit organisation Snake Helpline has brought Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s attention to the case were local quacks are giving ‘acid treatment’ for snakebite.

It came to fore that the barbarian practice of applying acid on snakebite victims to ‘denature the venom molecules’ has come back to haunt innocent villagers.

On August 18, a three-member team lead by Subhendu Mallik, the founder of Snake Helpline, came across pictures of Sarita Mohapatra (25) who bore severe acid injuries. She hailed from Mrudangapalli village in Dhenkanal District.

Upon inquiring, they came to know that a snake had bit her. Her family took her to a local quack who then applied acid-like liquid substance on her left leg and thigh. After the liquid was smeared on her body, she felt a burning sensation and could not sleep overnight due to continuous irritation. In the morning she found severe burning injuries on the body where the acid was smeared.

Subhendu Mallik and his team found a similar case where on August 15, a snake had fallen on 30-year-old Niranjan Behera. Even though there was no fang mark, his family took him to the same local quack. The quack applied the same liquid smear on Niranjan’s body; starting from his head, back, the right-side face, and on the entire right hand. This was done because the snake’s body came into contact with Niranjan’s and the entire part of the body was smeared with acid that had come in contact with the snake’s body.

A total of three cases were found by Subhendu and his team. They counselled the victims to go to the nearest Government hospital an avail the free of cost treatment. Subhendu said “This is most unfortunate that in 2020 we witnessed such a thing that has been in practice before 1900. The injuries on both the victim’s points to definite acid burn injuries. There is evident skin damage, but the exact quantum of damage, however, is to be ascertained by a surgery specialist. Our volunteer at Dhenkanal will attend them should they come for treatment to the District Hospital”.

Mallick argues that the stigma around snakebites or bite from any poisonous creature is huge. He states that snakebite is the most neglected tropical disease as notified by the World Health Organization (WHO). India tops the annual snakebite death chart in the entire world as per WHO with nearly 50000 people die each year. Quackery is practised in India and the state of Odisha is no exception. Time and again from different parts of India different types of quackery is being reported with resultant deaths. Even though Government hospitals provide the Anti Snake Venom (ASV) free of cost at Govt. hospitals as a lifesaving drug, Indian people still believe in quacks. In the name of religious practice and godly belief quacks still operating strong, because the action is not taken them.

“The quacks always got scoot free in India because the victim or his/her family members never come forward to lodge a formal complaint against the criminal practice. Therefore, l have tagged this complaint to the Director-General of Police of Odisha, and SP, Dhenkanal to arrest the quack immediately who is inflicting life-threatening injuries to snakebite victims,” said Subhendu.

He also sought CM’s intervention and requested to send a special team to conduct a survey at that locality to search for a greater number of possible victims. The acid burnt victims are facing tremendous social stigma and inferiority due to disfigured body thanks to acid smear by the quack.  The special medical team should include a psychologist in the team for proper counselling of the acid burn victims who are also low on mental health said Subhendu Mallik.