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Snake Poisoning: Identification | Antivenin | Preventive Measures

Snake Poisoning: Identification | Antivenin | Preventive Measures

Effect of Cobra Venom

The Cobra venom is a neurotoxin affecting the nerve centres, paralyzing the muscles specially those concerned with respiratory system. The main symptoms are:

  1. The bitten spot turns bluish or blackish and the person feels burning sensation and pain followed by numbness of the bitten area.
  2. Inflammation and swelling occurs and a blood coloured fluid oozes out of the puncture.
  3. Gradually paralysis sets in the legs and the victim becomes drowsy, week and unsteady on the legs and sits or lies down.
  4. Eyelids drop and pupils contract.
  5. Speaking and swallowing becomes difficult.
  6. Lower lip falls down and so saliva dribbles from the open mouth.
  7. Nausea and vomiting may take place.
  8. Respiration gradually depressed, breathing becomes slow and noisy and ultimately stops hence death by respiratory failure.

Effect of Viper Venom

  1. Great swelling and pain at the bitten spot which slowly spreads.
  2. Reduction of blood pressure due to paralysis of vasomotar centre.
  3. Heart weakens.
  4. Profuse bleeding which persists, if the venom injected is not much but in case the venom injected is in full dose the blood clots in blood vessels.
  5. Venom is mainly haemotoxin and it affects the circulatory and nervous system.
  6. Red blood corpuscles are destroyed.
  7. Pupil dilates and pulse rate is increased.
  8. Death by loss of blood, toxemia and heart failure.

Effect of Krait Venom

In case of this snake bite the symptoms are similar to those of a Cobra bite.

  1. Severe pain in the abdomen due to internal haemorrhage.
  2. No swelling or burning pain at the bitten spot.
  3. Feeling of drowsiness and intoxication is more intense.
  4. Albumen may be detected in urine.
  5. Haemolysis (destruction of Red Blood Cells) and paralysis of trunk and limb occurs followed by death.


Antivenin is prepared by immunizing horses against common poisonous snakes. For this purpose, horse is given frequent and increasing doses of toxin (venom) injections while maintaining a level of toxicity at each injection that the animal can tolerate. Thus, nearly in six months such horses become immune to snake venom, which is proved by the fact that the horses do not show any symptoms of snake bite even if a heavy dose of the venom is injected to them. The blood from the view of such immunized horses is taken out and after clotting the clot is removed and the serum,  ‘antivenin’, is packed in phials for injection purposes. Intravenous injections of the antivenin are given.

    Antivenin is prepared at Haffkine Institute, Mumbai. In the absence of expert medical facility, intramuscular or sub-cutaneous injections of antivenin can also be given, which will not be so quick and effective.

      Sometimes intravenous injections of antivenin may cause sickness to sensitive persons which may be even severe and create acute anaphylaxis and so should be taken care of immediately.


There are no specific preventive measures which can be recommended as in diseases. However, one can be careful from snake bite, hence some suggestions are given.

  1. Before entering old, deserted and dilapidated buildings one must be very careful.
  2. A torch or some light should be in-hand to provide light.
  3. Avoid sleeping on ground.
  4. While moving into forests or bushy areas one should wear long boots, leggings, and patties for protection.
  5. Compound of the houses should be kept clean of bushes, long grasses and rubbish heaps as few snakes live in near houses.
  6. The living houses must be free from rodents particularly rats and mice’s as it has been observed that snakes come to such houses for feeding on them.
  7. Do not move barefooted in snake infected area.
  8. Dogs and cats are good anti-paths for snakes, hence should be tamed.

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