NEW DELHI - Hospitals are readying anti-venom and flood victims returning home in the Indian state of Kerala have been told to stay alert as receding waters leave behind a glut of snakes.
Local media reports warned that snakes may be "hiding in cupboards" or under carpets, among clothes or inside washing machines in homes previously submerged by floods that have devastated parts of the southern state.
"Snakes are spotted at many flood-hit homes and alerts have been issued to exercise caution when returning home," Kerala government spokesman Subhash T.V told AFP on Friday (Aug 24).
"Hospitals too have been equipped to face the situation. Instructions have been given to arrange facilities to treat snakebite victims.
"Anti-venom and other necessary medicines are stored at all hospitals, especially those in flood-hit areas," he added.
Local media said several hospitals in the worst-hit areas of northern and central Kerala had reported an increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for snake bites.
Vava Suresh, a local snake handler, told the Hindustan Times newspaper he had received some 22 calls from worried residents and caught five cobras in Ernakulam district.
"One was found inside the wardrobe on the second floor of a house... while another one was inside a shelf in a house," he said.
State authorities and wildlife experts have formed teams to come to the aid of those who have found snakes in their home, according to local media.
The PTI news agency said the government had roped in a local snake expert, who advised returning residents to use a stick to sift through their belongings and not to touch household appliances with bare hands.
Around a million people are still packed into temporary camps even though the floods, which have left at least 420 dead and missing, are fast subsiding.
The government says that more than 10,000 kilometres of roads have been destroyed or damaged, while a legislator said 50,000 houses had been wiped out.