Accidental envenoming by a Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica): the haemostatic disturbances observed and investigation of in vitro haemostatic properties of whole venom.
McNally T., Conway GS., Jackson L., Theakston RD., Marsh NA., Warrell DA., Young L., Mackie IJ., Machin SJ.
We report the successful treatment of envenoming by the Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica) and include results of in vitro investigations of the haemostatic properties of the whole venom. The patient was admitted to casualty soon after the bite with chest tightness, dizziness, nausea and swelling at the site of the bite and was treated immediately with polyspecific antivenom, hydrocortisone, chlorpheniramine and antibiotics. Results of haemostatic investigations were essentially normal on admission but on day 3 the thrombin time became prolonged and was associated with significant hypofibrinogenaemia and elevated D-dimers. Factors V and VIII, antithrombin III and protein C levels and platelet number were not significantly reduced. The haemostatic disturbances persisted for more than 24 h despite treatment with blood products (16 units of cryoprecipitate, 2 units of fresh frozen plasma and 6 units of platelet concentrate). Resolution of the abnormalities occurred only after administration of a further dose of antivenom. The period of hypofibrinogenaemia occurred at a time when venom antigen was undetectable in plasma by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Studies in vitro with whole venom and a panel of amidolytic substrates commonly employed for measurement of haemostatic proteins revealed significant activity of venom with substrates sensitive to kallikrein and plasmin. The venom inhibited washed platelet aggregation induced by collagen, thrombin, arachidonic acid and the calcium ionophore A23187 in a dose-dependent manner.