Snake Bites and Antivenom

Snake Bites and Antivenom

Snake bites may cause death. However, victims may survive if they are treated promptly with the most appropriate antivenom.

According to an article written by Dr. Vyjayanti Kasinathan, there are about 17 species of snakes in Malaysia found to be poisonous. They are cobras (common cobra, king cobra), vipers (Russell’s viper, Malayan pit viper and green tree pit viper) and kraits.

Victim’s reaction and severity after venomous snake bites depends on the species and size of snake, amount of venom, number of snake bites, site of snake bites and size of the victims. Children usually experience more severe effects compared to adults because of their smaller body size.

Snake venom may act in different ways and cause different effects to victims. Therefore, it is important to recognize the snake species that bites the victim, or at least remember the appearance of the snake. So that the most appropriate and specific antivenoms for that snake species could be used for its maximum antivenom effect. Antivenoms for a snake species may not be effective against the effects of bites by other snakes species.

There are two types of antivenom available in Hospital Sultan Ismail, Johor Bahru.

Hemato Polyvalent Snake Antivenin


Hematotoxic venom will attack our blood cells.

It destroys red blood cells, and disrupts blood clotting. Thus it may cause bleeding from orifices like nose, eyes, and also gums, stool, urine, vomit, the brain and so on.

It also attacks other types of cells and tissues, causing profound tissue damage and organ failure such as kidney failure.

Snake species:

  • Russell’s Viper (Daboia russelii siamensis)
  • Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma)
  • All Green Pit vipers (Trimeresurus albolabris)

Neuro Polyvalent Snake Antivenin


Neurotoxic venom attacks the nervous system.

Victims will have progressive muscle paralyzation. When it attacks the diaphragm muscle, it will cause breathing difficulties, respiratory failure, and subsequently death. Pre-synaptic neurotoxins damage nerve endings while post-synaptic neurotoxins block acetylcholine from binding to receptors, thus leading to a neuromuscular paralysis.

Snake species:

  • King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
  • Cobra (Naja kaouthia)
  • Malayan kraits (Bungarus candidus)
  • Banded kraits (Bungarus fasciatus)
  • Others: Blue kraits (Bungarus candidus), Red headed Krait (Bungarus flaviceps), coral snakes (Genus Calliophis).


When there is a snake bite, DO NOT PANIC!

  1. Remember the snake’s appearance.
  2. Do not suck or cut the bite.
  3. Wash the site of bite if possible.
  4. Bandage the bite site.
  5. Do not make unnecessary movement which would fasten the venom to spread in the body.
  6. Carry and send the victim to the nearest hospital.
  7. Describe the snake appearance to the doctor.


  1. Polyvalent Sanke Antivenin Product Leaflet.


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