Thursday, March 17, 2011

Unfortunately Poor Advice and a Bad Situation

The following article was published by the Philippine Information Agency, March 11, 2011. It is unfortunate that there is an antivenom shortages, and it is even more unfortunate that the idea that antivenom can only be administered within a narrow window is still accepted in some parts of the world.

No snake anti-venom stockpile in hospitals
TAGBILARAN CITY, Mar. 11(PIA)--- FOR snake bites, immediately wash the bite wound with soap and water and rush the victim to the nearest hospital for proper administration.

This sums up Dr, Reymoses Cabagnot’s advice to patients in snake bite cases after admitting that snake anti-venom are not included in the stocked drugs at government hospitals.

Venomous snake bites may be treated with an anti-venom, Dr. Cabagnot said.

Snake antivenins are a man-made biological product called anti-ophidic serum, which can be extracted by milking a snake to extract its venom.

Collected snake anti-venom is then administered into the test animals with natural immune response to allow them to develop antibodies. These are then harvested and stored for medicinal use.

But, the presence of different poisonous snakes in the country also requires different kinds of effective anti-venom, usually obtained from the same kind of snake that bit.

“This makes stockpiling anti-venom for all kinds of snake difficult,” added another medical professional who refuses to be identified.

“While there are polyvalent antivenom-antivenins that are effective on a broad range of poisonous snakes, it would be hard to stockpile them with cases of snake bites rarely occurring,” she said.

Dr. Cabagnot, provincial health officer also added that the government hospitals have no stocks of these antivenins.

The doctor was interviewed after radio reported of a 9-year-old girl who died without treatment.

The child from barangay Napo, Alicia town was believed to be a victim of poisonous snake bite.

Neighbors and relatives brought the nine-year old victim to an alternative healer but the patient was not ushered in as the alternative medicine man had a lot of patients.

Relatives then brought the victim to Dr. Bienvenido Molina, around 6:00 but, sources said the child was dead for 30 minutes before the doctor saw her.

But even if antivenins are effective on most snake bite victims, they may be only if administered within an extremely narrow window of opportunity, the medical practitioner said.

Antivenins are normally administered to the victim as soon as possible that is 4-5 hours after a snake bite attack.

But, “doctors may also have some reservations in antivenins as these may have adverse reactions to some people, so these must be administered in extreme caution,” she warned. (rac)

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