Presentation and Treatment of Venomous Snakebites at a Northern Academic Medical Center

Cowles, Robert A.; Colletti, Lisa M.
May 2003
American Surgeon;May2003, Vol. 69 Issue 5, p445
Academic Journal
Poisonous snakebites are relatively rare in the United States. The incidence of venomous snakebites is comparatively high in the southern states compared with the northern states and reports of these accidents from northern states is particularly uncommon. We report the experience with treatment of venomous snakebites at the University of Michigan over a 25-year period from 1976 to 2001. Six cases were identified and are described in detail. All patients were male and all were bitten in the upper extremity by pit vipers. One patient suffered a moderate envenomation and was treated with antivenin. Four other cases of mild envenomation occurred and two of these cases required antivenin therapy. One case was considered to represent a "dry" bite and required only 24-hour observation. There were no severe envenomations and no mortalities. On short-term follow-up all patients recovered without sequelae. This report demonstrates that venomous snakebites can be treated effectively at low-volume centers.


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