PREVALENCE OF SNAKE BITE CASES AMONG DOGS IN THRISSUR DISTRICT OF KERALA

S.R. Nayanakumara1, N. Madhavan Unny2, S. Ajithkumar4, Usha Narayana Pillai3 and Siji S. Raj1
1M.V.Sc.Student, 2Assistant Professor, 3Professor and Head, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, Ethics and Jurisprudence; 4Professor and Head, Department of Teaching Veterinary Clinical Complex; College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur- 680 651(Kerala). [Received: 11.3.2017; Accepted: 19.9.2017]
{DOI 10.29005/IJCP.2017.9.2.109-111}

The dogs presented to University Veterinary Hospital, Mannuthy and Kokkalai of Thrissur district of Kerala
with the history of snake bite or clinical signs suggestive of snake bites made the study group. The prevalence study
was conducted during the period from August 2015 to April 2016. The present prevalent study revealed viper bite cases are more common than cobra. Labrador retriever was the common bitten breed and male dogs are more prone for snake bite. Time elapsed to present the dog to the hospital was more than human patients.

Key words: Dog, Prevalence, Snake bite. Snake envenomation is a common medical emergency in veterinary practice with varying morbidity and mortality rates. In India, number of human mortality and morbidity cases associated with snake bite are one of the highest in the world. Maharashtra stands first amongst the snakebite affected states in India followed by West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Majority of the bites were reported from vipers followed by cobra and common krait (Pillay, 2008). Kumar and Basheer (2011) reported that most snakebite cases in humans in Kerala were from cobra, krait, Russell’s viper and saw-scaled viper. However,
morbidity and mortality records of snake bite cases in veterinary practice in our country is scarce. The present study was carried out to study the prevalence of snake bite cases among dogs in Thrissur district of Kerala.

Materials and Methods
Number of 32 dogs presented to University Veterinary Hospital, Mannuthy and Kokkalai with the history of snake bite and/or presence of dead snake near the dog or clinical signs suggestive of snake envenomation made the study group. Clinical signs included were the presence of fang marks, salivation, swelling at the site of bite, ptosis, paralysis of hind quarter, haematemesis, haematochezia, haematuria and respiratory distress. Snake was identified
based on morphology and recognition of snake by the owner. Details including age (eight months to ten years), sex
(Male/Female), breeds (Labrador retriever, Rottweiler, Dobermann, Non-descriptive, Dachshund, German shepherd dog and Dalmatian), time of presentation, single or multiple bites, local swelling at the site of bite, identification of fang marks and site of bites were recorded.

Results and Discussion
Thirty-two snake bitten dogs were reported in the present study. In which, 17 cases were bitten by Russell’s viper, 14 dogs were bitten by cobra and one case was from saw-scaled viper. One viper bitten animal and five cobra bitten animals succumbed to death before reaching the hospital.
Animals bitten were with an age range of eight months to ten years. Ten animals in cobra bitten group were in the age range of two to five years and four animals were aged less than two years. Whereas, in viper bite cases, nine animals were in the age group of two to five years, five animals were less than two years of age and four animals were of more than five years.
Labrador retrievers were most commonly bitten breed in the present study. The breed wise data of snake bite is as
presented in Table 1. Month/season wise prevalence showed higher in February and March months had more snakebite cases than other months. The month wise occurrence is depicted in Table 2.
Out of 14 cobra bite cases, six dogs were females and the remaining were males. In viper bite cases, six animals were females and twelve were males. In this study, male dogs were bitten more frequently than females. Average time of presentation of cobra and viper bitten dogs was 5 and 10½ hours respectively, after the bite. Average time of presentation of snake bite dogs was 7¾ hours.
In case of cobra envenomation, all animals were bitten at a single site. Whereas, in viper envenomation, six dogs were bitten at multiple areas and the remaining dogs were bitten in a single area. Most of the bites were
seen on the face, followed by the legs in  cobra and viper envenomation.
In two out of fourteen cobra envenomed cases, fang marks could not be located. All the animals with viper bites showed clear cut fang marks at the time of presentation to the hospital. Local swelling at the bitten area was
recorded in four and fourteen dogs bitten by cobra and viper respectively.

The present study revealed increased viper bite cases than cobra bite cases. It could be suggested that the number and type of bite cases reported vary considerably with the geography, type of snakes present in that area
and the availability of veterinary help. In the present study, the mean age of two to five years were more susceptible and the similar observation was recorded by Aroch and Harrus (1999) and Lervik et al. (2010) .Labrador retriever was the most bitten dog breed followed by Rottweiler, Doberman, non-descriptive dogs, Dachshund and German Shepherd dog. Increased incidence of Labrador retriever might be due to higher ownership of the breed in the locality.
During the study period from August 2015 to April 2016, February and March months had more snakebite cases than other months. Average time of presenting the snake bitten animal to hospital was 7¾ hours. Lack
of knowledge regarding snake envenomation among pet owners, false impression of a dry bite or non-venomous snake bite and lack of knowledge with regard to availability of specialized veterinary care could be the
reasons for delay in presentation of the dog to the hospital. In present study, 33.33 per cent of animals were bitten more than once by vipers. It was in accordance with the findings of Aroch and Harrus (1999). These findings
might be due to the fact that vipers are very aggressive and the dogs try to catch hold of the snake owing to which the snakes attack multiple times. High incidence of confrontation between dog and the snakes makes the face vulnerable to bites. History from the owner also confirmed the confrontation. In 93.75 per cent of the bitten
dogs, fang marks were identified. These results were similar to the findings of Pal et al. (2009) and Geetha (2010). Due to delay in presentation of cases there was sufficient time for the development of signs such as a local swelling and oozing of serosanguinous fluid from the site of bite. Hyaluronidase facilitates better penetration of venom by cleaving the internal glycoside bond in mucopolysaccharides of tissues.
The present prevalent study revealed viper bite cases are more common than cobra. Labrador retriever was the common bitten breed and male dogs are more prone for snake bite. Time elapsed to present the dog to the
hospital was more than human patients.

References
Aroch, I. and Harrus, S. (1999). Retrospective study of the epidemiological, clinical, haematological and biochemical findings in 109 dogs poisoned by Vipera xanthina palestinae. Vet. Rec., 144: 532–35.

Geetha, O. (2010). Snake envenomation: A Hospital-based survey from Thiruvananth -apuram, Kerala. J. Indian Soc. Toxicol., 6: 23-29.

Kumar, K.M.P. and Basheer, M.P. (2011). Snake bite: Biochemical changes in blood after envenomation by viper and cobra. J. Med. Allied Sci., 1: 36-41.

Lervik, J.B., Lilliehook, I. and Frendin, J.H.M. (2010). Clinical and biochemical changes in 53 Swedish dogs bitten by the European adder – Vipera berus. Acta Vet. Scand., 52: 26.

Pal, B., Mandial, R.K., Wadhwa, D.R. and Kishtwaria, R.S. (2009). Clinicohaematological profiles and therapeutic
management of snake bite in dogs. Indian J. Vet. Res., 18: 31-34.

Pillay, V.V. (2008). Comprehensive medical toxicology. 2nd edn., Paras Medical Publisher, Hyderabad, India. Pp.1202.

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