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Snake bite expert helping raise awareness of the danger of snake bites in India

Bangor University Scientist and Herpetologist Dr Anita Malhotra specialises in research on venomous snakes and their venom and is taking part in a global snakebite awareness campaign this year. "I am taking part in the “Women Champions of Snakebite” campaign, which aims to shine a light on all women working tirelessly each and every day to mitigate snakebite suffering, including in India."  

Dr Malhotra has been working on the neglected problem of snakebite since 2013. Snakebites are a particular problem in tropical areas and Anita’s homeland of India.  Sadly, India leads the world in deaths by snakebite with a staggering 55,000 to 65,000 deaths from snakebite every year.   

India is only just starting to be thoroughly investigated from a herpetological standpoint and new species of snakes (some venomous and others not) are still to be identified.  The key to producing an effective antivenom is knowing the snakes that bite people, and current antivenom preparations in India only include 4 species of snakes, some of which are not even found in all areas of India. Together with Indian collaborators, Anita has been working on trying to identify new and potentially dangerous snakes and confirming where they occur, as well as studying their venom, in order to try and create more effective antivenom that will help save lives. 

Dr Malhotra commented “This is a huge problem and raising awareness in such a diverse country will go a long way to helping prevent deaths and disabilities from snakebite. Which is why I am adding my expertise to the campaign “Women Champions of snakebite” being run by several organisations such as the Lillian Lincoln Foundation (LLF), Health Action International (HAI) and the Global Snakebite Initiative (GSI) that are helping to combat this issue.” 

Dr Malhotra teaches on Bangor University Undergraduate Zoology degrees and as well as supervising MScRes and PhD students. 

Bangor University Herpetological Society 

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Publication date: 15 October 2020

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