Bites by Russell's vipers (Daboia russelii siamensis) in Myanmar: effect of the snake's length and recent feeding on venom antigenaemia and severity of envenoming.
Tun-Pe None., Ba-Aye None., Aye-Aye-Myint None., Tin-Nu-Swe None., Warrell DA.
An improved enzyme immunoassay technique (EIA) was used in the diagnosis of 311 suspected Russell's viper bite cases in Myanmar [Burma], 181 of whom (58%) had systemic envenoming. Russell's viper venom was detected in the sera of 175 (56.3%), cobra or green pit viper venoms in 4 (1.3%), and no venom in the remaining 132 (42.4). Among 175 of these patients who failed to bring the dead snake, EIA achieved a specific diagnosis of Russell's viper envenoming in 101 (58%). The serum venom antigen concentration was higher in patients with systemic envenoming than in those with local or no envenoming and it increased with the development of coagulopathy. Stomach contents were examined in 101 Russell's vipers responsible for bites. The presence of prey, usually a rodent, in the snake's stomach, indicating that it had eaten recently, did not influence the severity of envenoming, the initial venom level, or the percentage circumference increase and the extent of local swelling in the bitten limb. One hundred and fifty-five Russell's vipers responsible for bites showed a bimodal distribution of total lengths. The smaller snakes had probably been born that year. Longer snakes were responsible for more severe envenoming, a shorter interval between the bite and the detection of incoagulable blood, and more extensive local swelling with a greater percentage circumference increase of the bitten limb; but their bites were not associated with higher initial venom antigenaemia or a greater risk of developing acute renal failure.