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The mechanisms of haemostatic failure were studied in 87 patients bitten by the Papuan taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus canni). Eighty (92%) had evidence of a coagulopathy on laboratory testing; 36 (41.4%) developed spontaneous systemic bleeding, although this was rarely of clinical significance. Coagulation assays in 48 completely defibrinated patients showed marked reductions in factors V and VIII and reductions in factors II, IX, XI, XII and XIIIA. There was a reduction in plasminogen and alpha 2-antiplasmin levels and both total and cross-linked fibrin(ogen) degradation products (FDP) levels were elevated. The mean platelet count was initially decreased and fell further during admission. Similar but less severe changes were seen in patients who were mildly defibrinated. Following treatment with antivenom, fibrinogen levels rose rapidly and coagulability was restored within 6-12 h in 93% of patients. These abnormalities may be primarily attributable to the prothrombin activator present in taipan venom, but it is likely that other uncharacterized venom components contributed.


Journal article


Blood Coagul Fibrinolysis

Publication Date





65 - 72


Animals, Antivenins, Blood Coagulation Factors, Elapidae, Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products, Hemorrhagic Disorders, Papua New Guinea, Plasminogen, Prospective Studies, Prothrombin, Snake Bites, alpha-2-Antiplasmin