Venomous Snake Bites: Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment – Mukasa Emma

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As we celebrate world snake day 16/July 2021, many people die of snakebites despite the covid 19 pandemic and our health workers have little clue on the treatment procedures.

As Herp fauna foundation (u)Ltd we want to make all people aware about this neglected disease and how to hand a snakebite.

Snake bites are life-threatening injuries that can require intensive care. The diagnosis and treatment of venomous snake bites is sometimes difficult for clinicians because sufficient information has not been provided in clinical practice.

Here we review the literature to present the proper management of bites  snakes, which widely inhabit Uganda and other East African countries.

No definite diagnostic markers or kits are available for clinical practice; therefore, definitive diagnosis of snake-venom poisoning requires positive identification of the snake and observation of the clinical manifestations of envenomation.

Bitis gabonica (gaboon viper) bites cause swelling and pain that spreads gradually from the bite site. The platelet count gradually decreases due to the platelet aggregation activity of the venom and can decrease to <100,000/mm(3).

If the venom gets directly injected into the blood vessel, the platelet count rapidly decreases to <10,000/mm(3) within 1 h after the bite. Jamesoni mamba Bites result in swelling within 30 min.

Severe cases manifest not only local signs but also general symptoms such as vomiting,loss of consciousness, and hypotension.

Vine snake bites induce life-threatening hemorrhagic symptoms and severe disseminated intravascular coagulation with a fibrinolytic phenotype, resulting in hypofibrinogenemia and increased levels of fibrinogen degradation products.

Previously recommended first-aid measures such as tourniquets, incision, and suction are strongly discouraged. Once airway, breathing, and circulation have been established, a rapid, detailed history should be obtained.

If a snake bite is suspected, hospital admission should be considered for further follow-up. All venomous snake bites can be effectively treated with antivenom. Side effects of antivenom should be prevented by sufficient preparation. Approved antivenoms for different snakes are available. 

By Mukasa Emmanuel – Executive director , Herp fauna foundation (u) Ltd 

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