Home Update News Bite from exotic snake sparks multistate scramble for antivenom

Bite from exotic snake sparks multistate scramble for antivenom

Bite from exotic snake sparks multistate scramble for antivenom

A 26-year-old Pinconning Township man is still recovering from a cobra bite that sent doctors scrambling to hunt down antivenom.   

The man became nauseous and started vomiting about 20 minutes after his pet albino monocled cobra bit him the night of July 14. He was initially treated at a Bay City area hospital but then was airlifted to Detroit after he stopped breathing because his respiratory muscles became paralyzed, according to Detroit Medical Center officials. 

DMC toxicology experts reached out to the Toledo Zoo. Eight vials of antivenom were sent to DMC Harper Hospital and administered to the man shortly after his arrival. 

“However, the generic antivenom, which covers many, but not all species of poisonous snakes, had little effect and the patient’s condition continued to worsen,” DMC Communications Manager Jason Barczy said in an e-mail. 

Barczy said the man’s family helped doctors identify the species of snake and in turn pinpoint what type of antivenom was needed.  

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Monocled cobras are native to South and Southeast Asia, according to reptilesmagazine.com. Their deadly venom is one of the fastest-acting snake venoms in the world, the magazine said. 

With the man’s prognosis looking grim, DMC officials contacted the Miami-Dade County Venom Response Program in Florida the morning of July 15. Twenty vials of the appropriate antivenom were put on a commercial flight to Detroit and administered to the man via IV that afternoon. 

The man remains hospitalized but is on the road to recovery, Barczy said, thanks to the efforts of medical professionals who may experience such an event only once in their careers.  

“I talked to one of the directors of pharmacy who has been here 10 or 11 years, and she said it’s never really happened for her,” he said. “Five cases like this might happen through the entire country in a given year.”       

Contact staff writer Ann Zaniewski at 313-222-6594 or azaniewski@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AnnZaniewski. 

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