Author(s): Seneviratne SL, Opanayaka CJ, Ratnayake NS, Kumara KE, Sugathadasa AM,
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To record current practices in hospital management of snake bite, especially with regard to use of antivenom serum (AVS). METHODS: Management of all snake bite victims admitted to the four main hospitals of the Gampaha district was prospectively studied during a 5-month period. A pretested data collection sheet was used. Relevant information was obtained from patients, accompanying persons, medical staff and hospital records. RESULTS: 466 patients (M:F = 7:3; 402 adults and 64 children) were admitted following snake bite during the study. The offending snake was identified in 357 (76.6\%) cases [172 (36.9\%) by examining the dead snake, 185 by identification of the snake in a photograph]. 273 (76.5\%) of the 357 admissions were due to hump nosed viper bite. AVS was given to 184 (39.5\%) patients, including 99 (36.3\%) with hump nosed viper bite. A sensitivity test of AVS was used in all 184 patients. Premedication with hydrocortisone and/or antihistamines before AVS infusion was given to 89 patients. Acute adverse reactions to AVS occurred in 102 (55.4\%) patients given AVS. There was no significant difference in the rate of reactions whether premedication was given or not. CONCLUSION: Precise identification of the offending snake was not possible in many instances. Practices that are of no benefit in the treatment of snake bite are still widely used. Acute adverse reactions to AVS are common, and neither hydrocortisone nor antihistamines seem to be of benefit as prophylaxis. Evidence based management guidelines, especially with regard to AVS therapy, are urgently required.
This article was published in Ceylon Med J
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals