Epidemiology and clinical effects of hump-nosed pit viper (Genus: Hypnale) envenoming in Sri Lanka

Kalana Maduwage, Geoffrey K. Isbister, Anjana Silva, Sunil Bowatta, Suresh Mendis, Indika Gawarammana

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Hump-nosed pit vipers of Genus Hypnale are the commonest cause of snake bite in Sri Lanka. Although there are many reports of local effects, coagulopathy and acute kidney injury, it remains unclear how frequent these clinical effects are and therefore the medical importance of this snake genus. The genus has been recently revised to include H ypnale hypnale from Sri Lanka and Western Ghats of Southern India, and the two endemic species to Sri Lanka, H ypnale zara and H ypnale nepa. This was a prospective hospital-based clinical study of definite Hypnale spp. bites from July 2008 to July 2010 in six Sri Lankan hospitals. There were 114 patients included and all snakes were correctly identified by hospital staff as Hypnale spp. Of these, 93 snakes were identified as H. hypnale by an expert, 16 as H. zara and five as H. nepa. Most bites occurred on the lower limbs in the daytime. There was no difference in the clinical effects between the three species. Pain and fang marks were present in all patients, 101 had local swelling and only 16 (14%) developed extensive local swelling that spread proximally and involved more than half of the bitten limb. Systemic symptoms occurred in 18 patients; four patients had an abnormal 20 min whole blood clotting test and one patient developed an acute kidney injury that required haemodialysis. All patients were discharged alive with a median length of stay of 2 days. This study confirms that hump-nosed viper bites cause only minor effects in most cases. Future studies need to undertake formal coagulation studies and identify important early indicators of renal impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-15
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Envenoming
  • Hump-nosed viper
  • Hypnale
  • Snake bite
  • Sri Lanka

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