Relationship between snake size and clinical, epidemiological and laboratory aspects of Bothrops atrox snakebites in the Western Brazilian Amazon

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In the Brazilian Amazon, snakebites are a significant problem, especially for populations in rural areas, particularly in forests, where victims are a considerable distance from hospital care. Several factors are associated with the severity of the accident, such as the size and age of the snake. This study aims to compare the clinical, epidemiological and laboratory aspects of envenomation to the size of Bothrops atrox snakes. Clinical, epidemiological and laboratory variables were collected from patients bitten by B. atrox and who were admitted to a hospital in the city of Cruzeiro do Sul (western Brazilian Amazon). When the two punctures of the teeth were present in the bite sign, the distance between these was measured. When taken to the hospital, the snake was measured; otherwise, its size was estimated via interviews with patients. In 92 cases, the size of the snake was estimated, and most of these were caused by small snakes. Bites of small snakes occur mainly on the feet, while larger specimens reach the legs or higher regions. Small snakes were associated primarily with mild and moderate snakebites, with more presence of hemorrhagic manifestations, while larger snakes were responsible for severe cases and characterized by local effects (necrosis, edema, flictena, compartment syndrome, and infection) and patients were treated with a higher amount of antivenom and for a longer period of hospitalization. The distance of the punctures was related to the size of the snake and the severity of the local envenomation. The observation of the distance between puncture marks when present, which is correlated with the length of the specimen, as well as the estimation of the snake size by the patient, may provide more support for the health professional on the prognosis of envenomation. The use of boots in activities in rural areas and forests could contribute to a lower rate of cases of snakebites, and health education on preventive measures and first aid for populations is fundamental.
Costa TN, Mota-da-Silva A, Colombini M, Moura-Da-Silva AM, Souza RM, Monteiro WM, et al. Relationship between snake size and clinical, epidemiological and laboratory aspects of Bothrops atrox snakebites in the Western Brazilian Amazon. Toxicon. 2020 Oct;186:160-167. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2020.08.010.
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