Revisiting Russell's Viper (Daboia russelii) bite in Sri Lanka: Is abdominal pain an early feature of systemic envenoming?

Senanayake A M Kularatne, Anjana Silva, Kosala Weerakoon, Kalana Maduwage, Chamara Walathara, Ranjith Paranagama, Suresh Mendis

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The Russell's viper (Daboia russelii) is responsible for 30-40% of all snakebites and the most number of life-threatening bites of any snake in Sri Lanka. The clinical profile of Russell's viper bite includes local swelling, coagulopathy, renal dysfunction and neuromuscular paralysis, based on which the syndromic diagnostic tools have been developed. The currently available Indian polyvalent antivenom is not very effective in treating Russell's viper bite patients in Sri Lanka and the decision regarding antivenom therapy is primarily driven by clinical and laboratory evidence of envenoming. The non-availability of early predictors of Russell's viper systemic envenoming is responsible for considerable delay in commencing antivenom. The objective of this study is to evaluate abdominal pain as an early feature of systemic envenoming following Russell's viper bites. We evaluated the clinical profile of Russell's viper bite patients admitted to a tertiary care centre in Sri Lanka. Fifty-five patients were proven Russell's viper bite victims who produced the biting snake, while one hundred and fifty-four were suspected to have been bitten by the same snake species. Coagulopathy (159, 76.1%), renal dysfunction (39, 18.7%), neuromuscular paralysis (146, 69.9%) and local envenoming (192, 91.9%) were seen in the victims, ranging from monosystemic involvement to various combinations. Abdominal pain was present in 79.5% of these patients, appearing 5 minutes to 4 hours after the bite. The severity of the abdominal pain, assessed using a scoring system, correlated well with the severity of the coagulopathy (p

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere90198
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • vipers
  • snakebite
  • abdominal pain
  • coagulopathy
  • Sri Lanka
  • snakes
  • hemorrhage
  • paralysis

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