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During the past decade, effective snake antivenoms have become scarce in northern Nigeria. As a result, many patients severely envenomed by the saw-scaled or carpet viper (Echis ocellatus), which is responsible for more than 95% of the snake bites in the region, did not receive effective treatment and mortality and morbidity increased. To combat this crisis, a new monospecific ovine Fab antivenom (EchiTab) is being developed. Its theoretical advantages over conventional equine F(ab')2 antivenom are a more rapid tissue penetration and larger apparent volume of distribution (the volume of [tissue] fluid in which the the antivenom would be uniformly distributed to achieve the observed plasma concentration). In a preliminary study, two vials (20 ml; 1.0 g of protein) of EchiTab rapidly and permanently restored blood coagulability and cleared venom antigenemia in seven envenomed patients. Four experienced early reactions that responded to epinephrine. In a randomized comparative trial of one vial (10 ml; 0.5 g protein) of EchiTab or four ampules (40 ml; 2.12 g of protein) of Institute Pasteur Serum (Ipser) Africa polyspecific F(ab')2 antivenom, there were fewer reactions, but only 36% and 35% of patients, respectively, showed permanent restoration of coagulability, with the remainder requiring further doses. This suggests that 0.5 g (one vial) of EchiTab is approximately equivalent to 2.12 g (four ampules) of Ipser Africa antivenom, and that a higher initial dose will be required for most patients. Measurements of circulating venom and antivenom levels reflected the clinical events.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Am J Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date

03/1997

Volume

56

Pages

291 - 300

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Animals, Antivenins, Child, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Female, Half-Life, Humans, Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments, Male, Middle Aged, Nigeria, Sheep, Snake Bites, Viper Venoms, Viperidae