Venomous Snakes and Snakebite Treatment in Asia

Y. Sawai


Snakebite is a hazard in Asian areas. The mortality rate and morbidity rate by snakebites in these areas depend on the species and the density of venomous snakes in each area. Thus the mortality rate is higher in the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India, where the bites by cobras, kraits and Russell’s viper are frequent. On the other hand, lower rates of bite are recorded in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia, where the bites by pit viper of Agkistrodon and Trimeresurus species are predominant. The bite by the seasnakes of Hydrophiidae is also a problem among fishermen in Malaysia and Indonesia, Environment of human life, where the snakebites occur, is also another important factor. In most of the areas, modernization of the medical treatment is delayed because of shortage of specific antivenom, lack of the experts who are able to inject antivenom intravenously soon after the bite, popularization of herbal remedies, and poor mode of transportation of patients to hospital.


venomous snakes; snakebite; treatment; Asia

Full Text:



Ahuja M. L. and Singh G. (1954), «Snakebite in India», J. Med. Res., 12, 661 – 686.

Aye M. M. (1990), «Clinico-pathological correlation in Russell’s viper bite», in: P. Gopalakrishnakone and O. K. Tan (eds.), Progress in Venom and Toxin Research, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore, pp. 78 – 107.

Baxter E. H. and Gallicho (1974), «Cross neutralization by tiger snake (Notechis scutatus) antivenom against several sea snake venom», Toxicon, 12, 273 – 278.

Cable D. W., McGehee W. M., Wingert W. A., and Russell F. E. (1984), «Prolonged defibrination after a bite from a ‘nonvenomous’ snake», J. Am. Med. Assoc., 251, 925 – 926.

De Silva A. (1976), «The pattern of snake bite in Sri Lanka», Snake, 8, 43 – 51.

De Silva A. (1981), «Snakebites in Anuradhapura District», Snake, 13, 117 – 150.

De Silva A. (1990), Colour Guide to the Snakes of Sri Lanka, R. & A. Publishing.

De Silva A. and Ranasinghe L. (1983), «Epidemiology of snakebite in Sri Lanka, a review», Ceylon Med. J., 28, 144 – 154.

Ganthavorn S. (1971), «Toxicities of Thailand snake venom and neutralization capacity of antivenom», Toxicon, 9, 293 – 294.

Haile M. S. (1963), «Snake, bite man: two recent Borneo cases», Sarawak Mus. J., 11, 291 – 298.

Higa M., Uezato H., and Araki Y. (1990), «A case of sea snake bite in Okinawa, Japan», Snake, 22, 100 – 105.

Kawamura Y., Chinzei H., and Sawai Y. (1975), «Snakebites in Indonesia», Snake, 7, 73 – 78 [in Japanese with English abstract].

Kuo T. P. and Wu C. S. (1972), «Clinico-pathological studies on snakebites in Taiwan», Snake, 4, 1 – 22.

Mahasandana S., Ratananda S., and Akawat A. (1990), «Ecchymosis as a clinical predictor green pit viper’s bite», in: P. Gopalakrishnakone and C. K. Tan (eds.), Progress in Venom and Toxin Research, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore, pp. 60 – 68.

Marsden A. T. H. and Reid H. A. (1961), «Pathology of sea-snake poisoning», Br. Med. J., 1, 1290 – 1293.

Mather H. M., Mayne S., and McMonagle T. M. (1978), «Severe envenomation from ‘hamlets’ pet snake», Br. Med. J., 1, 1324 – 1325.

Ministry of Health, Burma (1981), Report of Statistic Division.

Mittleman M. B. and Goris R. C. (1976), «Death caused by the bite of Japanese colubrid snake Rhabdophis tigrinus (Boie)», J. Herpetol., 12, 109 – 111.

Murthy T. N. S. (1990), «Venomous snakes of medical importance», in: P. Gopalakrishnakone and L. M. Chou (eds.), Snakes of Medical Importance, National University of Singapore, pp. 281 – 297.

Muthusamy E. and Gopalakrishnakone P. (1990), «A king cobra bite, a case report», Snake, 22, 60 – 62.

Ogawa H. and Sawai Y. (1986), «Fatal bite of yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus)», Snake, 18, 53 – 54.

Okonogi T. (1973), «Venomous sea snake bite», Snake, 5, 156 – 161.

Philipps R. E., Theakston R. D. G., Warrell D. A., et al. (1988), Paralysis, rhabdomyolysis and hemolysis caused by bites of Russell’s viper (Vipera russelli pulchella) in Sri Lanka: failure of Indian (Haffkine) antivenom», Quart. J. Med., 68, 691 – 716.

Reid H. A. (1961), «Myoglobinemia and sea snake poisoning», Br. Med. J., 1, 1284 – 1289.

Reid H. A. (1975), «Epidemiology of sea snake bite», J. Tropical Med. Hyg., 78, 106 – 113.

Reid H. A., Thean P. C., and Martin W. G. (1963), «Epidemiology of snake bite in north Malaysia», Br. Med. J., 1, 992 – 997.

Saha S. G. and Hati A. K. (1983), «A longitudinal study on snakebites in a subsidiary health center in West Bengal», Snake, 15, 86 – 90.

Sawai Y. (1992), «Venomous snakes and snakebite treatment in Asia», Snake, 24, 129 – 141.

Sawai Y. and Honma M. (1976), «Snakebites in India», in: A. Ohsaka et al. (eds.), Animal, Plant, and Microbial Toxins, Plenum, New York, pp. 451 – 460.

Sawai Y. and Kawamura Y. (1990), «Habu (Trimeresurus flavoviridis) bites on the Amami Islands of Japan in 1988», Snake, 22, 1 – 7.

Sawai Y., Kawamura Y., and Kurokouchi Y. (1990), «Study on the environment related with habu (Trimeresurus flavoviridis) bite on the Amami Islands of Japan», Snake, 22, 87 – 92.

Sawai Y., Kawamura Y., Toriba M., et al. (1992), An epidemiological study on the snakebites in Guangxi, China in 1990», Snake, 25, 1 – 15.

Sawai Y., Koba K., Okonogi T., et al. (1972), «An epidemiological study of snakebites in the Southeast Asia», Jap. J. Exp. Med., 42, 283 – 307.

Sawai Y. and Lah K.-Y. (1978), «Snakebites in the south Korea», Snake, 9, 39 – 47.

Sawai Y., Makino M., Kawamura Y., Chinzei H., Okonogi T., Hokama Z., and Yamakawa M. (1976), «Epidemiological study of habubites on the Amami and Okinawa Islands», in: A. Ohsaka et al. (eds.), Animal, Plant and Microbial Toxins, Plenum, New York, pp. 451 – 460.

Sawai Y., Mishima S., Tseng C.-S., et al. (1978), «Study on seasnake and the bites in Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong», Snake, 9, 48 – 62 [in Japanese with English abstract].

Sawai Y., Toriba M., Itokawa H., de Silva A., Perera G. L. S., and Kottegoda M. B. (1984), «Study on the deaths due to snakebite in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka», Snake, 16, 7 – 15.

Sawai Y. and Tseng C.-S. (1973), «Snakebites in Taiwan», in: A. de Vries and E. Kochva (eds.), Toxins of Animal and Plant Origin, Vol. 3, Gordon and Breach, pp. 985 – 992.

Sitprija V., Benyajati C., and Boonpucknavic V. (1976), «Renal involvement in snakebite», in: A. Ohsaka et al. (eds.), Animal, Plant and Microbial Toxins, Plenum, New York, pp. 483 – 495.

Sun X.-S. (1990), «Experience in 3045 cases of treatment of snakebites by pit viper», Toxin Rev., 9, 134.

Szyndlar Z. (1984), «A description of a small collection of amphibians and reptiles from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with notes on the distribution of the herpetofauna in that country», Acuta Zoologica Cracow, 27, 3 – 18.

Tateno I., Sawai Y., and Makino M. (1963), «Current status of mamushi snake (Agkistrodon halys) bite in Japan with special reference to severe and fatal cases», Jap. J. Exp. Med., 33, 331 – 346.

Thein Hlaing (1970), «Epidemiology of snakebites in Burma», J. DP & YM Diss. Inst. Med. (Rangoon, Burma), 1.

To S. (1941), «Statistical studies of victims poisonous snakebites in Taiwan», J. Formosan Med. Ass., 40, 1477 – 1502, 1795 – 1824.

Toriba M. (1990), «Venomous snakes of medical importance in Korea», in: P. Gopalakrishnakone and I. M. Chou (eds.), Venomous Snakes of Medical Importance, National University of Singapore, pp. 377 – 386.

Tu A. T. and Ganthavorn S. (1969), «Immunological properties and neutralization of seasnake venom from Southeast Asia», Am. J. Tropical Med. Hyg., 18, 151 – 154.

Warrell D. A., Looareeswan S., White N. W., and Reid H. A. (1983), «Severe neurotoxic envenomation by the Malayan krait Bungarus candidus (Linneus): response to antivenom and anticholinesterase», Br. Med. J., 286, 678 – 681.

Watt G., Padri L., Tuazon M., Theakston R. D. G., and Launglin L. (1988), «Bites by the Philippine cobra (Naja naja philippinensis) prominent neurotoxicity with minimum local signs», Am. J. Tropical Med. Hyg., 39, 306 – 311.

Whitakar R. (1970), «Note on bites by saw-scaled viper Echis carinatus in the Deogad area of Ratnagiri, Maharashtra», J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., 67, 335 – 337.

Zhao E. (1990), «Venomous snake of China», in: P. Gopalakrishnakone and L. M. Chou (eds.), Venomous Snakes of Medical Importance, University of Singapore, pp. 243 – 268.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

You can subscribe to the print or electronic version of the journal on the site of EastView Company. If you have any questions, please write to the email