High-dose anti-snake venom versus low-dose anti-snake venom in the treatment of poisonous snake bites--a critical study

J Assoc Physicians India. 2004 Jan;52:14-7.


Objectives: To asses the optimum dose of anti-snake venom to treat snake bites cases effectively. This is particulary relevant in the present scenario when the cost of anti-snake venom ( Serum Institute of India) has gone up to nearly Rs. 400 per vial and the cross-section of people usually affected belong to the poor socioeconomic class.

Methodology: One hundred snake bite cases with envenomation, irrespective of whether they were bitten by viper, cobra or krait, brought within 24 hours of the bite to Jubilee Mission Hospital, Trichur, Kerala State during the 15 months from August 2001 to October 2002 were randomized into two groups of 50 cases each, irrespective of the severity of the cases. One group received a fixed dose regime of six vials of anti-snake venom and the other 12 vials of the same.

Results: In the low-dose group there were five deaths giving a mortality rate of 10%, nine (18%) required dialysis and three (6%) required ventilatory support. In the high-dose group there were seven deaths giving a mortality rate of 14%, 13 (26%) required dialysis and three (6%) required ventilatory support. The average hospital stay for the low-dose group was 8.42 days while that of the high-dose group was 9.02 days.

Conclusion: While there was no additional advantage in following a high-dose regime for snake bite cases, there was considerable financial gain by following the low-dose regime, Most of the parameters showed a beneficial trend for the low-dose group though the differences were not statistically significant.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antivenins / administration & dosage*
  • Antivenins / economics
  • Child
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Snake Bites / classification
  • Snake Bites / mortality
  • Snake Bites / therapy*
  • Snakes / classification*


  • Antivenins