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1.  Detection of Venom after Antivenom Is Not Associated with Persistent Coagulopathy in a Prospective Cohort of Russell's Viper (Daboia russelii) Envenomings 
Venom recurrence or persistence in the circulation after antivenom treatment has been documented many times in viper envenoming. However, it has not been associated with clinical recurrence for many snakes, including Russell's viper (Daboia spp.). We compare the recovery of coagulopathy to the recurrence or persistence of venom in patients with Russell's viper envenoming.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The study included patients with Russell's viper (D. russelii) envenoming presenting over a 30 month period who had Russell's viper venom detected by enzyme immunoassay. Demographics, information on the snake bite, and clinical effects were collected for all patients. All patients had serum collected for venom specific enzyme immunoassay and citrate plasma to measure fibrinogen levels and prothrombin time (international normalised ratio; INR). Patients with venom recurrence/persistence were compared to those with no detectable recurrence of venom. There were 55 patients with confirmed Russell's viper envenoming and coagulopathy with low fibrinogen concentrations: 31 with venom recurrence/persistence, and 24 with no venom detected post-antivenom. Fibrinogen concentrations increased and INR decreased after antivenom in both the recurrence and non-recurrence patients. Clinical features, laboratory parameters, antivenom dose and length of hospital were similar for both groups. Pre-antivenom venom concentrations were higher in patients with venom recurrence/persistence with a median venom concentration of 385 ng/mL (16–1521 ng/mL) compared to 128 ng/mL (14–1492 ng/mL; p = 0.008).
Recurrence of Russell's viper venom was not associated with a recurrence of coagulopathy and length of hospital stay. Further work is required to determine if the detection of venom recurrence is due to the venom specific enzyme immunoassay detecting both venom-antivenom complexes as well as free venom.
Author Summary
Snakebite is a major public health problem and understanding the effectiveness of antivenom is essential to improving health outcomes. The measurement of venom in blood has been used to assess the effectiveness of antivenom. The absence of venom post-antivenom indicating that sufficient antivenom has been given, and the persistence or recurrence of venom indicating that insufficient antivenom has been given. There are numerous reports of venom recurrence with viper bites, including Russell's viper bites. However, it remains unclear if venom recurrence is always an indicator of inadequate antivenom and recurrence of clinical envenoming. In this study, we compare patients with and without the persistence or recurrence of venom who develop coagulopathy after Russell's viper bites. There was no difference in the recovery of the coagulopathy between the two groups of patients demonstrating that for Russell's viper envenoming, venom recurrence or persistence was not associated with the recurrence or persistence of clinical effects such as coagulopathy. Patients with detectable venom after antivenom did have higher pre-antivenom venom concentrations. Further investigation is required to interpret venom concentrations post-antivenom.
PMCID: PMC4270487  PMID: 25521820
2.  Current Treatment for Venom-Induced Consumption Coagulopathy Resulting from Snakebite 
Venomous snakebite is considered the single most important cause of human injury from venomous animals worldwide. Coagulopathy is one of the commonest important systemic clinical syndromes and can be complicated by serious and life-threatening haemorrhage. Venom-induced consumption coagulopathy (VICC) is the commonest coagulopathy resulting from snakebite and occurs in envenoming by Viperid snakes, certain elapids, including Australian elapids, and a few Colubrid (rear fang) snakes. Procoagulant toxins activate the clotting pathway, causing a broad range of factor deficiencies depending on the particular procoagulant toxin in the snake venom. Diagnosis and monitoring of coagulopathy is problematic, particularly in resource-poor countries where further research is required to develop more reliable, cheap clotting tests. MEDLINE and EMBASE up to September 2013 were searched to identify clinical studies of snake envenoming with VICC. The UniPort database was searched for coagulant snake toxins. Despite preclinical studies demonstrating antivenom binding toxins (efficacy), there was less evidence to support clinical effectiveness of antivenom for VICC. There were no placebo-controlled trials of antivenom for VICC. There were 25 randomised comparative trials of antivenom for VICC, which compared two different antivenoms (ten studies), three different antivenoms (four), two or three different doses or repeat doses of antivenom (five), heparin treatment and antivenom (five), and intravenous immunoglobulin treatment and antivenom (one). There were 13 studies that compared two groups in which there was no randomisation, including studies with historical controls. There have been numerous observational studies of antivenom in VICC but with no comparison group. Most of the controlled trials were small, did not use the same method for assessing coagulopathy, varied the dose of antivenom, and did not provide complete details of the study design (primary outcomes, randomisation, and allocation concealment). Non-randomised trials including comparison groups without antivenom showed that antivenom was effective for some snakes (e.g., Echis), but not others (e.g., Australasian elapids). Antivenom is the major treatment for VICC, but there is currently little high-quality evidence to support effectiveness. Antivenom is not risk free, and adverse reactions can be quite common and potentially severe. Studies of heparin did not demonstrate it improved outcomes in VICC. Fresh frozen plasma appeared to speed the recovery of coagulopathy and should be considered in bleeding patients.
PMCID: PMC4207661  PMID: 25340841
3.  Diagnosis of snake envenomation using a simple phospholipase A2 assay 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4827.
Diagnosis of snake envenomation is challenging but critical for deciding on antivenom use. Phospholipase A2 enzymes occur commonly in snake venoms and we hypothesized that phospholipase activity detected in human blood post-bite may be indicative of envenomation. Using a simple assay, potentially a bedside test, we detected high phospholipase activity in sera of patients with viper and elapid envenomation compared to minimal activity in non-envenomed patients.
PMCID: PMC4003729  PMID: 24777205
4.  Revisiting Russell's Viper (Daboia russelii) Bite in Sri Lanka: Is Abdominal Pain an Early Feature of Systemic Envenoming? 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90198.
The Russell's viper (Daboia russelii) is responsible for 30–40% of all snakebites and the most number of life-threatening bites of any snake in Sri Lanka. The clinical profile of Russell's viper bite includes local swelling, coagulopathy, renal dysfunction and neuromuscular paralysis, based on which the syndromic diagnostic tools have been developed. The currently available Indian polyvalent antivenom is not very effective in treating Russell's viper bite patients in Sri Lanka and the decision regarding antivenom therapy is primarily driven by clinical and laboratory evidence of envenoming. The non-availability of early predictors of Russell's viper systemic envenoming is responsible for considerable delay in commencing antivenom. The objective of this study is to evaluate abdominal pain as an early feature of systemic envenoming following Russell's viper bites. We evaluated the clinical profile of Russell's viper bite patients admitted to a tertiary care centre in Sri Lanka. Fifty-five patients were proven Russell's viper bite victims who produced the biting snake, while one hundred and fifty-four were suspected to have been bitten by the same snake species. Coagulopathy (159, 76.1%), renal dysfunction (39, 18.7%), neuromuscular paralysis (146, 69.9%) and local envenoming (192, 91.9%) were seen in the victims, ranging from mono-systemic involvement to various combinations. Abdominal pain was present in 79.5% of these patients, appearing 5 minutes to 4 hours after the bite. The severity of the abdominal pain, assessed using a scoring system, correlated well with the severity of the coagulopathy (p<0.001) and the neurotoxicity (p<0.001). Its diagnostic validity to predict systemic envenoming is – Sensitivity 81.6%, Specificity 82.4%, Positive predictive value 91.2%. Thus, abdominal pain is an early clinical feature of systemic Russell's viper bite envenoming in Sri Lanka. However, it is best to judge abdominal pain together with other clinical manifestations on decision making.
PMCID: PMC3936006  PMID: 24587278
5.  Comparative in-vivo toxicity of venoms from South Asian hump-nosed pit vipers (Viperidae: Crotalinae: Hypnale) 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:471.
Envenoming by south Asian hump-nosed pit vipers (Genus: Hypnale) is a significant health issue in Sri Lanka and in peninsular India. Bites by these snakes frequently lead to local envenoming, coagulopathy and acute renal failure even resulting in death. Recently the genus was revised and the existence of three species viz H. hypnale, H. nepa and H. zara were recognized. There is, however, a paucity of information on the toxicity of the venoms of these species. Hence, we compared the toxic effects of the three Hypnale venoms using BALB/c mice.
Intraperitoneal median lethal doses (LD50) for H. hypnale, H. zara and H. nepa venoms were 1.6, 6.0 and 9.5 μg protein/g respectively. Minimum haemorrhagic doses for venoms of H. hypnale, H. zara and H. nepa were 3.4, 11.0 and 16.6 μg protein/mouse respectively. The minimum necrotic doses for the same venoms were 15.0, 55.1 and 68.2 μg protein/mouse respectively. Severe congestion and petecheal haemorrhages were observed in lungs, kidneys, liver and the alimentary tract. Histopathogical examination of kidneys revealed proximal tubular cell injury and acute tubular necrosis with intact basement membrane indicating possible direct nephrotoxicity. Hypnale venoms caused pulmonary oedema, hepatocellular degeneration and necrosis, focal neuronal degeneration in brain and extramedullary haemopoiesis in spleen. H. hypnale venom caused all above histopathological alterations at lower doses compared to the other two.
Hypnale venoms cause similar pathological changes with marked differences in the severity of the toxic effects in vivo. Therefore, differences in the severity of the clinical manifestations could possibly be seen among bite victims of the three Hypnale species.
PMCID: PMC3494509  PMID: 22932058
Hypnale; Nepa; Zara; Venom; Toxicity; Histopathology
7.  The in vitro toxicity of venoms from South Asian Hump-nosed pit vipers (Viperidae: Hypnale) 
Hump-nosed pit vipers (Genus Hypnale) are venomous snakes from South India and Sri Lanka. Envenoming by Hypnale species may cause significant morbidity and is characterized by local envenoming and less commonly coagulopathy and acute renal failure. Currently there are three nominal species of this genus: H. hypnale, H. zara and H. nepa. This study investigates the biochemical and pharmacological properties of the venoms from the three Hypnale species in Sri Lanka. The three Hypnale venoms had similar chromatographic profiles using reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography and fractions with procoagulant activity were identified. Hypnale venoms had potent cytotoxicity in cultured rat aorta smooth muscle cells with similar IC50 values. The venoms had weak neurotoxic and myotoxic activity in the isolated chick biventer muscle preparation. They had mild procoagulant activity with close MCC5 values and also phospholipase activity. Locally available polyvalent antivenom did not neutralise any venom effects. The study demonstrates that the three Hypnale venoms are similar and cytotoxicity appears to be the most potent effect, although they have mild procoagulant activity. These findings are consistent with clinical reports.
PMCID: PMC3114463  PMID: 21677795

Results 1-7 (7)