An Indian farmer urinating in an open field nearly lost his life after a venomous snake bit him on the penis.
The 46-year-old farmer was taken for treatment to the emergency department of the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar, in the northern state of Jammu and Kasmir.
And despite arriving at the hospital three hours after he was bitten, the farmer has recovered.
The man was able to identify the snake that bit him as “gunas,” the local name for the venomous Levantine viper (Macrovipera lebetina), according to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
Levantine vipers are known to be poisonous. Five subspecies of the vipers are found in North Africa, Middle East and as far east as Kashmir in India.
Although, the farmer was found to be in a stable condition, his penis was “grossly swollen” and covered with blisters at the points where the snake’s fangs punctured the flesh.
According to the report on the case published by NEJM on September 10, 2015, when tests showed that the patient’s blood was clotting faster than normal due to the snake venom in his system, he was treated with anti-venom that is able to stop the abnormal clotting by neutralizing the venom.
The anti-venom used in his case is also able to neutralize the venom of the common krait (Bungarus caeruleus) and some species of cobra.
The patient’s blood clotting returned to normal after three days.
Doctors allowed him to return home on the fourth day after the swelling in his penis had gone down, but he was left with black wounds where the fangs of the snake had entered his flesh.
The black wounds were due to necrosis, that is, withering and death of normal tissue.
The patient recovered completely after two weeks.
This is not the first time that the media has reported a case in which a man was bitten on the penis by a snake. The Telegraph reported back in 2008 the case of a tourist who was bitten on the penis while using a roadside toilet in the town of Laura in the Cape York Peninsula of northern Queensland.
The deadly Australian “brown snake” lunged at the victim’s crotch and sank its fangs into the tip of his penis.
But the man was lucky because the snake did not release enough toxin into his system to cause serious harm.
The common brown snake, native to Australia, has the second most deadly venom after the inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus), another Australian species of venomous snake. It is said that the venom of the brown snake is 12 times more potent that the Indian cobra’s.
The report comes as the international charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned that the world is running out of its stock of Fav-Afrique, the most effective available treatment for the venom of 10 different species of African snakes.
Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of the anti-venom, said it stopped producing it because it has been priced out of the market. The company revealed that its remaining stock will expire in June 2016.
Available records show that five million people are bitten by a poisonous snake every year, leading to 100,000 deaths and thousands of amputations.
Most victims survive due to the availability of anti-venom. But the situation could change if the world runs out of the remaining stock of Fav-Afrique anti-venom.