King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) bites in Myanmar: venom antigen levels and development of venom antibodies.
Tun-Pe None., Aye-Aye-Myint None., Warrell DA., Tin-Myint None.
Venom, venom IgG and IgM antibody and total serum IgG levels following king cobra bites in two reptile handlers were measured by enzyme immunoassay. The patient in case 1 received antivenom while the patient in case 2 did not. Case 1 made a complete recovery following the bite and produced a high titre short-lived antibody. Venom antigen was not detected in the sample taken 11 hr after antivenom. Case 2 had experienced two recent minor king cobra bites and had received traditional immunization 4 weeks before the accident reported here. He had developed only local swelling and suffered no neurological symptoms. Venom antigen measured at 1.45 hr after the bite was 132 ng/ml; this rapidly fell to 45 ng/ml over the next 30 min, and was no longer detectable 14 hr after the bite. The pattern of venom IgG and IgM antibody responses in both cases was comparable, except that in case 2 the venom IgG peak was maintained for 13 days, compared with 1 day in case 1; in case 2 it subsequently fell to low levels 8 weeks after the bite. Venom IgM appeared 1 day after the bite, peaked at day 7-9, rapidly tailed off on day 12-16 and was then undetectable from day 20 onwards in both. Total IgG level remained within normal limits in both. It is possible that previous bites and recent immunization contributed to the boosting of the venom IgG response in case 2.