Koushik Barui is a 25 year old resident of Gairkata (district Jalpaiguri, West Bengal). He is a student of MA Part 2. His father has a cloth shop and his mother is a home maker. He has 2 sisters , both are married. Koushik is a member of an NGO named Gairkata Aranyak, . He has been a snake rescuer since the last 4 years and was bitten earlier by a rat snake.
Bite Incident: On 13th Sept 2012, Koushik got a call at around 6pm in the evening from a shop keeper informing him that there was a large snake on the road outside their shop. On arriving at the spot he saw that the snake had crossed the road and was in a dry nullah. Koushik wanted to leave it alone but the shop keeper insisted that they bag and relocate the snake. By this time some others had arrived with sticks to kill the reptile and Koushik decided to bag it. It was getting dark. There was a slight injury near the tail of the snake. No sooner had he caught the snake’s tail and lifted its body with the tong , the snake lunged backwards and bit his left hand. Koushik bagged the snake thinking it was a non-venomous rat snake. It was 6.30pm.
When he arrived at the Forest Department (FD) office with the snake, the members of Gairkata Aranyak identified the snake as Common Krait. It was a healthy, massive sized snake. As it was injured it was kept for treatment by the local vets.
The local tea garden hospital provided 10 vials of anti-venom that was stocked with them. Koushik was rushed to Birpara hospital about 12 kms from Gairkata where the 10 vials of anti-venom were administered. He was then shifted to the better equipped Jalpaiguri District hospital, 62 kms from Birpara. Koushik began to vomit on the way and had problems with his vision. His throat felt extremely dry and breathing was getting laboured with each passing minute.
There was no ICU bed available at the Jalpaiguri district hospital and the doctors managed to secure a bed in Marina Nursing Home – a private hospital which was close by. Koushik was finally admitted in Marina Nursing home at 8.45pm, 2.15 hours after the bite incident. Later that evening Koushik slipped into a coma and his condition remained unchanged for the next 3 days.
In the meantime the members of Gairkata Aranyak had a shocking revelation. The rescued snake was a Wall’s Krait. Until then, no one was aware that the region had Wall’s Krait distribution.
Koushik was administered a total of 33 vials of anti-venom and after a slow recovery, he was shifted to the general ward and stayed at the hospital for one week. He was under the treatment of Dr Kumar Atanu and the cost of treatment was borne by Gairkata Aranyak (NGO). A total of Rs 80,000 was spent on his treatment.
Meanwhile the snake’s injury was treated by local vets and it was released near a tea garden on the outskirts of Gairkata after it had recovered fully.
After being discharged from hospital, Koushik was still weak and didn’t regain his sense of taste for the next 2 months. His left hand felt numb accompanied by pain near the ring finger (the area where he was bitten). It is almost 3 years since the bite incident and he still experiences pain in his left hand at least once a week. On regular intervals tiny boils erupt between the middle finger and the ring finger with oozing fluid accompanied by itching. A skin ointment has been prescribed by the doctor to keep the skin condition under control.
This incident could have been avoided if care was taken to ID the snake before rescuing it. Koushik admits it was his own folly that put his life in grave danger. He is now more cautious while on rescue calls. The area around Jalpaiguri has a healthy sighting of Wall’s Krait. Koushik has rescued 8 Wall’s Krait last year (2014) along with other venomous & non-venomous snakes.
Written by Priyanka Kadam (as narrated by the victim).