Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, 5 patients proved to have been bitten by common kraits (Bungarus caeruelus) and 2 by Sri Lankan cobras (Naja naja naja) were investigated. In all the cases of krait bite the patients were bitten while they were asleep: local signs were negligible but 4 developed symptoms of systemic envenoming including paralysis, muscle pain and tenderness and abdominal pain. Mild myoglobinaemia was found in one case. Of the 2 patients bitten by cobras, one developed severe local swelling which progressed to necrosis and the other local swelling and respiratory paralysis. Response to polyspecific antivenom (Haffkine, India) was neither rapid nor convincing. Venom antigenaemia became undetectable within 2 h of the start of antivenom treatment, but recurred 25 and 65 h later in 2 cases. Among a group of 27 patients treated with this antivenom (including 21 bitten by Russell's vipers), the incidence of early anaphylactic and pyrogenic reactions was high at 52% and 65% respectively. Anticholinesterase did not improve paralysis in 2 patients bitten by kraits. The respiratory failure in 2 patients was successfully treated by mechanical ventilation for 8 and 30 h. These observations confirm the importance of neurotoxic symptoms following bites by these species but also suggest a contributory role of generalized rhabdomyolysis in krait victims and emphasize the problem of severe local tissue necrosis in cobra victims. There is a need for safer and more potent antivenoms for use in Sri Lanka.


Journal article


Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date





301 - 308


Adult, Anaphylaxis, Animals, Antivenins, Elapid Venoms, Female, Humans, Male, Snake Bites, Sri Lanka, Time Factors