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Snakebite in a High-rise Apartment

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Tirupati Akruti Green Residential Complex, Ahmedabad.

In most of India snakebite is a phenomenon that can happen anywhere and at anytime.  This story  validates this statement .

Jagdish Bhai Chandra Trivedi is an octogenarian living with his 76-year-old wife Vatsala in Tirupati Akruti Green Complex in Ahmedabad. The couple have seven daughters and one son –  Sagar Trivedi, who lives in Dubai since the last 15 years. He works in the Gold & Diamond industry. Incidentally Sagar and his family were visiting his parents when this incident occurred.

Jagdish Bhai Chandra Trivedi

Jagdish Bhai Chandra Trivedi

Tirupati Akruti Green is a residential complex that has six high rise buildings with a total of 432 flats. Jagdish Bhai lives on the 8th Floor. On 14th April 2018, Jagdish Bhai got up around 6 am and made himself a cup of tea. He then went to the drawing room to open the window and felt a pin-prick like pain while drawing the curtain. Since he was still feeling sleepy he didn’t check what had caused this. When he felt the pain again, he looked down and found a small snake around 18 inches long at his feet. Jagdish Bhai was taken aback. He quickly woke his wife and son.

Saw Scaled Viper

Saw Scaled Viper

Sagar couldn’t believe what his father told him. The snake was still coiled near the dining area. Sagar immediately tied a tourniquet around his father’s leg (a little above the bitten area) and called the 108 ambulance services.

[Please note that tourniquets are harmful when used as first-aid in a venomous snakebite situation as it leads to snakebite related trauma in the bite area and subsequent morbidity especially in a viper bite].

The ambulance arrived within 15 minutes.  Jagdish Bhai was taken to the Sola civil hospital which is approximately 5 kms from their residence. The ambulance arrived at the hospital in 10 minutes. Jagdish Bhai was immediately taken to the casualty ward and his treatment started within 30 minutes of the bite. He was given 10 vials of snake antivenom along with supportive medicines. He was discharged on the fourth day of the bite. Since Jagdish Bhai enjoys good health even at the ripe age of 81 his recovery was quite uneventful.

Swollen foot due to saw scaled viper bite

Swollen foot due to saw scaled viper bite

The snake which bit Jagdish Bhai was a Saw Scaled Viper. The family was still perplexed about the presence of a venomous snake inside a multi-storied building.  Moreover Saw Scaled vipers are generally not found close to human habitats. This species of snake lives in rocky terrain in the plains and hills alike. Generally nocturnal in nature, it likes to rest at the base of thorny shrubs during the day.

Two events that had happened around the bite incident that could potentially explain the snake’s presence:

  • The family had bought an air conditioner which was delivered in a hard card board box. Perhaps the snake had slithered into the box when it was stored in the warehouse and it came out of its hiding place on that fateful morning.
  • There was some carpentry work going on in the flats below. The workers came up with their cloth bags & tiffin. Each afternoon the workers went down to have lunch. Perhaps while sitting under a tree etc, the snake may have slithered into one of their bags and got accidentally transported to the upper floors by the workers.

While this story has a happy ending, one is forced to think that snakebites can occur just about anywhere in the country. It is therefore of utmost importance that hospitals be equipped with antivenom, supportive drugs and a ventilator. The medical staff should also undergo appropriate training to manage snakebites.

The Trivedi family

The Trivedi family

Note: The incident was reported by Jigar Upadhyay, an animal rescuer and wild life conservationist living in Ahmedabad.

Written by Priyanka Kadam (as narrated by Sagar Trivedi).