Complications of a snake bite

The complications that may arise depend on a variety of factors such as the species of snake involved, the venom – the amount injected, location of injection, patient factors could also be important (body size – distribution of venom, children, adult). However the ranges of possible complications that I could find are listed below, and these can be put into the following categories already known;

  • Neurotoxins – numbness over the area, paralysis of the region could also result. This targets NMJ/synapses and can be classified as pre and post synaptic toxins (ANS), affecting pre and post synaptic neurons respectively. Paralysis when it occurs normally commences with the cranial nerves, then skeletal muscles, then respiratory muscles.
  • Myotoxins – this involves destruction of skeletal muscle cells, resulting in muscle tenderness. The destroyed tissue needs to be eliminated and ends up clogging in the kidney tubules, which could result in renal failure (chronic kidney damage).
  • Haemotoxins – this affects blood clotting, some venoms posses anticoagulant activity, and promote excessive bleeding (cerebral haemorrhages can be very fatal – 20% of people who die after a snake bite have cerebral haemorrhages), while other toxins are procoagulant – initially causing wide spread clot formation, followed by defibrinogenation, making patients more vulnerable to strokes (etc).
  • Nephrotoxins – elimination of the toxin/toxin-anti venom complex from the body can cause kidney damage.
  • Cardiotoxins
  • Local tissue damage and necrosis may result in scarring and cosmetic effects
  • Chronic ulceration at snake bite site, infection
  • Hyperkalaemia – where there is an excess of serum potassium levels
  • Hypocalcaemia – lower calcium levels in blood serum, this and the above could be associated with the effect of toxins on neurons.
  • If the venom was spat into the eyes it could result in corneal ulceration, and scarring – blindness


~ by pcl4 on July 24, 2008.

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