Horned adder bite

This section will help you get first aid treatment protocols incase of an envenomation. This includes indigenous and exotic reptiles. Please do not use this forum for photo sharing, etc.

Horned adder bite

Postby Bushviper » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:38 pm

Recently a collegue of mine was looking after some baby Horned adders (Bitis caudalis) of mine. At 13 months old you would imagine that they were used to captivity considering theyy are captive bred. Anyway he open the cage and one of them shot out of the front of the cage. Trying to stop it from hitting the floor he grabbed at it and caught it before it hit the ground. At the same time he felt a stinging sensation in the left hand's middle finger. The snake had thanked him by biting him.

The snake was small and the bite did not seem to be too bad so he basically ignored it. The progress was unremarkable and besides a bit of soft tissue swelling and slight tenderness for a day or two nothing came of this. A week later he was helping me move cages and catching out mice and he mentioned that the tiny puncture wound was itching. I glanced at it but said that it would go away, because there was virtually nothing to see. I did not even bother photographing it because it had nothing to show.

The next day I got an sms and thought he was joking. Overnight the finger had swollen up and necrosis and a blister had formed after 7 days!!!!

Image

Image

I drained the blister and watery bloody liquid excuded. He was put on antibiotics and antihistamines as well as some really strong pain pills.

I have never ever seen anything like this in my life. If anyone has any logical theories I would be really interested to hear them.
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Postby swazi » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:44 pm

7 days later, very interesting! Any other symptoms?
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Postby Bushviper » Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:04 pm

Nope and it has healed faster than normal as well. Really strange.
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Postby Serpy » Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:07 pm

I saw it again yesterday, everything looks good, he's got close to full movement back in the finger as well.
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Postby rubida » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:40 pm

Very interesting! Will show the photo’s to Tony* tonight.

* PC problems…again.
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Postby MV » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:05 am

4 years back I got tagged by my Horned, one fang entering right above my nail(left hand index finger) Adder...the pain was immediate(worst bite to date and hopefully the last). I did the whole bandage thing and went to the hospital where the "nurses" didn't know what to do, and I had to wait for the doc(another 2 hours) before they could send me for hospitalisation. :evil:

24 hours later my hand was swolen up to my wrist and I couldn't use it at all...armpit glands was hurting like hell!!!

My whole hand turned purple but no sign of necrosis by the third day. By the 5th day the swelling subsided and my hand regained its color and I could start moving my fingers, although my finger were still purple-ish black.

I was released after 1 whole week. on the 8th day I was removing the bandages to clean, when I saw part of my skin on the tip of my finger coming loose. I went back to the doc, where he cleaned it out and de-skinned almost the whole tip part of my finger!!! Just like he did with the Stilletto snake bite 2 years earlier. :oops:

The finger is skew now, with the tip pointing to the right hand side(quite funny though, always ensures for a few good laughs ). :-P

Thats the only experience I have from Horned adder bites...it hurt like hell!!! :!: :!: :!:
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Postby Sean » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:18 am

Why do I suddenly have an urge for marmite on toast?

:lol:
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Postby armata » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:45 pm

David Warrell would be extremely interested in this, particularly the delayed action symptoms.
Is there any way we can get it to him, you can PM me.
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Postby Bushviper » Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:24 pm

What would you need armata? I can get more recent pics but they dont show much.

I wish I had photographed them on the Saturday (day 6) but as I said there was nothing to see.
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Postby Rob » Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:11 pm

I wonder if different caudalis from different localities possess different strength venom. Could be a silly question, could not.

Ive heard thats the case with Green mambas from further north. Can anyone confirm?
Caudalis range is huge, you never know.

I would love to see more pics of caudalis bites, have always wondered about these small Bitis
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Postby froot » Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:27 am

Ok I have one suspect theory.
Whenever a fluid is injected into living tissue the tendancy is for it to be spread around the local area and away through the lymph and blood systems. Could it not be possible that a fluid can be positioned inside living tissue in such a way or place that it is not affected by any circulatory systems? Now I'm thinking old scar tissue? This way it would have to be resident among cells that it does not have any effect on and no circulation to spread it.
Now after the finger has been agitated from activity the venom was forced out of this location and entered the circulatory system and only a week later, the agitation triggering the symptoms of a typical envenomation as the venom now enters the circulatory systems.

Just a brain fart.
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Postby Bushviper » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:24 pm

Rob I have seen more amputations from B. caudalis than any other species. It seems to pack a nasty venom. Some recent reports have even included dizzyness and diarrhea which is not normal from cytotoxins. This may also be from regional differences.

I have to assume that species feeding on mice will have different venoms to species feeding on geckos so I cannot think that the venoms will be the same throughout the range. The fact that it is not medically important (kill people) will probably never raise the profile to a serious study of any sort. The same can be assumed about berg adder (Bitis atropos) bites despite there being recorded deaths. If there is some budding venom researcher out there who wants to make a name these small adders will be a nice stepping stone. Oh and check if B. atropos in Zimbabwe are the same species while you are about it.

Froot I also thought that the venom could somehow have encapsulated itself in tissue which was not affected by the cytotoxins. That part of the finger does not have fat so my theory of the fat went out the window too. The scar tissue is a good assumption however I could not find any on the finger. Deeper down anything could be possible.

That seems to be a viable theory because there are not any better ones yet.
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Postby WW » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:37 pm

Any chance it was an infection that healed faster than usual because of the antibiotics>

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Postby Long John Silver » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Is there any way that secondary infections can cause that?
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Postby Bushviper » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:50 pm

WW I am not with you now.

The swelling, itching and necrosis only started after a week and then only did we get antibiotics because there were virtually no symptoms before this.

Before this there was nothing to see and movement in the finger was normal.

Recovery was very fast though and two days later the finger could move and all pain had disappeared. The rotten skin and tissue was still evident though.

Edit. WW. Sorry I am with you know. The possibility exists but the symptoms were so similar to envenomation I have been side tracked. Pity we could not test for this possibility.

Wicked theory that now has my head spinning.

Does that look like a secondary infection that can go from zero to this in a matter of hours?
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