Hospitals report increase in snakebites as people return to homes where snakes had taken shelter
Snakes warning as Kerala's floods recede
Residents of Kerala have been warned to beware of snakes as they return to homes abandoned during widespread flooding in the south Indian state.
"Snakes are spotted at many flood-hit homes and alerts have been issued to exercise caution when returning home," Kerala government spokesman Subhash TV said.
"Hospitals too have been equipped to face the situation. Instructions have been given to arrange facilities to treat snakebite victims. Anti-venom and other necessary medicines are stored at all hospitals, especially those in flood-hit areas," he said.
About a million people in Kerala are still packed into temporary shelters even though the floods, which have left at least 420 dead and missing, are fast subsiding. The state government faces a massive task to restore normal life after more than two weeks of widespread flooding that have destroyed or damaged more than 10,000 kilometres of road, washed away tens of thousands of homes and disrupted water and power supplies.
With the damage estimated at about US$3 billion (Dh11bn), state officials sais more aid is needed in addition to the funds and relief supplies already delivered or pledged by the central government, other states, and from abroad.
The UAE, which has a large population of expatriates from Kerala, was among the first countries to offer help. The official relief effort is led by the Emirates Red Crescent, while businesses, community groups and ordinary people have stepped up to contribute goods and money. More than 40 tonnes of relief supplies have been sent to Kerala and millions of dirhams have been collected. Volunteers with the Zayed Humanitarian Campaign have provided treatment for chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.
The threat of snakebites only adds to concerns such as outbreaks of disease as residents deal with repairing damaged homes and returning to work. Several hospitals in the worst-hit areas of northern and central Kerala have already reported an increase in the number of snakebite cases, local media said.
Vava Suresh, a local snake handler, told the Hindustan Times newspaper he had received 22 calls from residents and caught five cobras in Ernakulam district.
"One was found inside the wardrobe on the second floor of a house ... while another one was inside a shelf in a house," he said.
State authorities and wildlife experts have formed teams to assist people who find snakes in their homes, according to local media.
A snake expert consulted by the government advised returning residents to use a stick to sift through their belongings and not to touch household appliances with bare hands, the PTI news agency said.