Beware! There may be a snake inside your helmet

Emergency medicine expert at a private hospital in Kozhikode, Sunisha Menon, said that in case of a snake bite, one should be given a higher dose of anti-venom, around 150-200ml.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

KOZHIKODE: In 2020, news of a man from Ernakulam who rode his bike for almost 11km without realising he had a venomous snake inside his helmet created waves as most motorists keep their helmets casually on their parked bikes and wear them without checking.

Later, several videos of snakes inside helmets popped up from across the country. But never in his wildest dreams did Kozhikode native Rahul E, 29, think that he too would experience the same horror. Rahul was at home in Koyilandy when he received an urgent call from the office on Friday morning. In a rush, he wore the helmet that kept on his bike and left. After riding for around 5km, Rahul experienced a hard-hitting pain on the right side of his head. Unable to bear it, Rahul stopped the bike, removed his helmet and checked the mirror. To his horror, he saw a long krait coiled around his head. Judging by the pain, it had bitten him.

“I shook my head hard to get the snake off. It fell on the ground and moved swiftly in search of a safe place,” said Rahul, still in shock. “Though the snake had disappeared, I was unable to shake the fear off. All I remember is some people holding me and taking me inside a room in the Koyilandy Taluk hospital,” he said. Though conscious, Rahul was unable to speak to anyone, including the doctors.

Passers-by and local residents had rushed him to the hospital where he was administered anti-snake venom (ASV). He was later shifted to the Kozhikode Government Medical College Hospital (MCH). It took the medical team more than 24 hours to stabilise Rahul’s condition. The incident led to a startling revelation. At least 12 people were treated at the MCH in the past eight months after being bitten by snakes that were inside their helmets.

Timely administration of the anti-venom and the right dosage helped stabilise the people who were bitten. “Reptiles like snakes come out of their resting places in search of dry and warm spots. To them, helmets kept in the open are a safe place to rest,” said Sunisha Menon, emergency medicine expert at a private hospital in Kozhikode. 

Sunisha said anyone suffering from snakebite should seek immediate professional medical help. “Our country is home to a variety of snakes, and differentiating between venomous and non-venomous species can be challenging. That’s why we advise maintaining a safe distance from them,” she said.

As for the anti-venom dosage, Sunisha said people who are bitten should be given a higher dose, around 150-200ml. “Based on the CT scan results, patients having incoagulable blood should be administered subsequent doses of 100ml. The timely and right treatment will greatly help save a patient suffering from a snakebite,” she said.

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The New Indian Express