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Management of a patient with snake bite is influenced by the nature of the offending snake. Species diagnosis based on the patient's history and physical signs is often unreliable and the possibility of making a species diagnosis by immunological means has therefore been investigated. Wound aspirates, blister fluids, sera, and urine samples from patients with snake bite were examined for the presence of species-specific venoms using immunodiffusion. A positive species diagnosis was made in 40 out of 101 patients. Immunodiagnosis was especially successful in patients bitten by the puff adder, Bitis arietans, and the African spitting cobra, Naja nigricollis. A higher success rate could probably be achieved using more specific antisera and more sensitive assay techniques.


Journal article


Br Med J

Publication Date





743 - 745


Animals, Blister, Body Fluids, Humans, Immune Sera, Immunodiffusion, Immunoelectrophoresis, Iodine Radioisotopes, Rabbits, Serologic Tests, Snake Bites, Snake Venoms, Snakes, Species Specificity