“No one knows the actual data,” Vaiyapuri maintains. “The MDS is a representative study, and that will not work in India because snakebites range across states, which is not considered here.”

Vaiyapuri’s study estimates 10,000 deaths and 100,000 bites from snakes yearly just in the state of Tamil Nadu. “If we use these as indicative numbers, total deaths from snakebites in India would be 200,000, and total bites would be two million. Further, these numbers double in the monsoon, when there is higher bite incidence,” he says. “The primary healthcare centres need to send snakebite records to medical and rural health services departments.” Many fishermen lacking access to treatment also die from poisonous sea snakes in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Snakebite is a critical issue across South Asia, and India is considered to have the highest incidence of bites and associated deaths in the world. The most vulnerable people are the poor farmers.