Envenomation refers to the process of venom administration into the body of victim by venomous animal bite or sting. Snake envenomation is a potentially life-threatening disease which causes death and disability to the victim. About 5.4 million snakebite cases per annum were reported, of which, ~2.7 million of them were envenomed (~81 000 to 138 000 deaths, three times as many were amputated and with other permanent disabilities). Agricultural workers and children are highly susceptible to snakebite. The composition of snake venom toxins is highly varied and capable of eliciting a range of fang-injection mediated toxicity effects such as breathing difficulty, hemorrhage, necrosis, organ failure. Apart of snakebite, venomous snakes are capable of spitting its venom across the tip of its fang. Ophthalmia and blindness can occur if the venom were to get into the eye of victim. At present, antivenom is the only effective antidote for snakebite envenomation.
Other animal Envenomation
The most extensively studied venomous terrestrial animals, other than snake, are scorpions and spiders; jellyfishes for venomous marine animals. In Brazil, a total of 1,192,667 envenomation accidents and 2,664 deaths from terrestrial venomous animals (snakes, scorpions, spiders, bees and caterpillars) were reported in Brazil in 12 years span. Both snakebites and scorpion stings accounted for most of these reported cases. Marine wise, water sports like scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing have increased the susceptibility of people to be in contact and consequently envenomed by jellyfish, sea urchins, and stingrays.
In general, mild bite or sting from these venomous species can cause local effects such as pain, edema and erythema; whereas severe envenomation could result in hypertension, excessive salivation and sweating, hyperthermia, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, respiratory difficulties, seizures and death. Treatment for most minor bites and stings involves the removal of spines, stingers, tentacles and fangs by using proper protective gear. Adding to that, treating the wounded site and monitoring the blood pressure or heart rate are some of the essential steps. For the treatment of severe envenomation, antivenom is administered to neutralize the snake venom.
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Prepared by: Chan Yi Wei and Ong Hui Ling