Snake Venom Detection

Last updated: Tuesday, 07, August, 2007
Item Process
Specimen

Swab from the bite site, even if it has been washed. If the patient has systemic symptoms and the bite site is of poor quality, urine is a useful alternative. A blood sample should only be used if neither of these specimens is available. A swab from the fangs of the dead snake may be used if available.

Method

Immunoassay.

Application

Identification of the venom involved in a clinically significant envenomation by an elapid snake in Australia or New Guinea.

Interpretation

A positive result indicates the presence of venom and whether it originates from a snake of the tiger, brown, black, death adder or taipan family. The result guides the choice of antivenom to use if there is clinical evidence of significant envenomation. Occasional false positive results occur. Sea snake venoms are not reliably detected.

Reference

White, J. CSL Antivenom Handbook 2nd ed. Melbourne. CSL Ltd. 2001