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Indian Man Bites Snake to Death

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A snake expert held a live snake in front of school children during an awareness campaign in Bhopal, May 30.

A farmer in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh took revenge on a snake that bit him, by biting the serpent back and killing it, according to a doctor in the hospital where the man is recovering.

Milap Dhurve, a member of the Gond tribe, was bitten on the right hand as he tended cattle by a river in the district of Betul on Thursday, said Rahul Srivastava, a doctor at the district hospital.

“The man turned back and bit the snake. He broke it in two pieces behind the neck and threw it near the river,” Mr. Srivastava said.

The doctor said Mr. Dhurve is being kept under observation at the hospital. He said the farmer couldn’t identify the type of snake that bit him, but his symptoms suggest it wasn’t poisonous. “He is OK now,” he said.

“Because the tribals are illiterate, it is difficult to get an accurate history, so we give an anti-venom which works for all poisonous snakes commonly found here,” the doctor said. Cobra, krait and vipers are common in the area, he said.

“He must be superstitious, believing that he has to bite the snake back to be fine,” Mr. Srivastava added. Mr. Dhurve couldn’t be reached for comment.

Experts say superstitious beliefs, such as biting a snake after it has attacked and seeking help from witch doctors, impede efforts to treat victims properly.

Snakebites cause more deaths in India than any other country. While exact figures are unknown, a 2007 report by the World Health Organization said as many as 50,000 people die from snakebites every year in India, accounting for a large portion of the 125,000 deaths worldwide. People in rural areas are most at risk, particularly if they work outdoors.

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