Gutiérrez JM., Calvete JJ., Habib AG., Harrison RA., Williams DJ., Warrell DA.
Snakebite envenoming is a neglected tropical disease that kills >100,000 people and maims >400,000 people every year. Impoverished populations living in the rural tropics are particularly vulnerable; snakebite envenoming perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Snake venoms are complex mixtures of proteins that exert a wide range of toxic actions. The high variability in snake venom composition is responsible for the various clinical manifestations in envenomings, ranging from local tissue damage to potentially life-threatening systemic effects. Intravenous administration of antivenom is the only specific treatment to counteract envenoming. Analgesics, ventilator support, fluid therapy, haemodialysis and antibiotic therapy are also used. Novel therapeutic alternatives based on recombinant antibody technologies and new toxin inhibitors are being explored. Confronting snakebite envenoming at a global level demands the implementation of an integrated intervention strategy involving the WHO, the research community, antivenom manufacturers, regulatory agencies, national and regional health authorities, professional health organizations, international funding agencies, advocacy groups and civil society institutions.