Snake bite, a neglected menace: a prospective observational study in a tertiary care pediatric intensive care unit


  • Shatabdi Giri Department of Paediatrics, IMS SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
  • Swarup Kumar Bisoi Department of Paediatrics, IMS SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
  • Dillip Kumar Dash Department of Paediatrics, IMS SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
  • M. D. Mohanty Department of Paediatrics, IMS SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
  • S. K. Parida Department of Paediatrics, IMS SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India



Anti- snake venom, Envenomation, Snake bite, Tertiary care


Background: Snake bite is a neglected and underestimated public health problem in tropical and subtropical region. Snake envenomation is a well-known cause of morbidity and mortality in India. In 2009, WHO declared snake bite a neglected disease. Ophitoxaemia is an exotic term characterising the clinical spectrum of snake bite. Objective of this study was to know the outcome in paediatric snake bite cases in a tertiary care PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) with special reference to envenomation time and also to evaluate and analyse few atypical presentations of snake envenomation by proper history taking, physical examination and help start early intervention to prevent morbidity and mortality.

Methods: A prospective observational study was done in Paediatric Intensive care unit of the hospital from June 2017 to June 2019.

Results: Around 56.8% of 109 cases were non-poisonous snake-bites. Out of 47 cases admitted to PICU, 68.08% developed cellulitis at the site of bite with Staphylococcus aureus being the commonest organism isolated (56.25%). Anaerobes (bacteroides and clostridium) were also isolated in few cases. Edema at site of bite (hematotoxic) and ptosis(neurotoxic) were most common initial presentation. 36.17% of patients received ASV (Anti- Snake Venom) and first aid within 6 hours of snake bite. The morbidity and mortality were significantly less (p<0.05) as compared to those who didn't receive ASV. 12.76% of cases with normal CRT (Clot Retraction Time) presented with features of coagulopathy. DIC (58.33% of hematotoxic bites) and respiratory paralysis 68 (75% of neurotoxic bites) were the commonest complications. Renal replacement therapy was required in 6.38%, transfusion in 10.63% cases and case-fatality-rate was 12.7%. There were a few atypical presentations of snake bite mimicking Gullain-Barre syndrome, acute onset encephalitis with absent brainstem and pupillary reflexes, intracerebral hemorrhage and cortical blindness.

Conclusions: Most snake bites are non-poisonous. Early first aid and ASV administration has better outcome. Fibrinogen levels are more reliable than CRT to diagnose coagulopathy. Acute presentations i.e, altered sensorium, paralysis, blindness and stroke like features should always be evaluated for snake envenomation in suspected cases to prevent morbidity and mortality.


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