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Sixteen years of severe Tiger snake (Notechis) envenoming in Perth, Western Australia

Discipline of Emergency Medicine, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia


We aimed to describe the characteristics, clinical course, management and outcome of patients presenting to Perth teaching hospitals after envenoming by Tiger snakes. We undertook a chart review from six Perth teaching hospitals over a 16-year period from 1990 to 2005. Data were collected by a trained investigator using a preformatted data abstraction tool. We included patients bitten in the appropriate geographical area, with defibrination coagulopathy and positive Venom Detection Kit result for Tiger snake or response to specific antivenom. Of 381 charts reviewed, 23 patients were envenomed by a Tiger snake. The mean age was 36 years, 83% were male and all were bitten on a limb. First aid was applied poorly and all patients were symptomatic on presentation. Six patients developed rhabdomyolysis, one renal failure, four clinical bleeding, three neurotoxicity, one non-fatal respiratory arrest and one fatal cardiac arrest. All patients received antivenom, 13 received adrenaline premedication, with two mild allergic reactions developing in non-premedicated patients. The average dose of antivenom was four ampoules. Mean hospital stay was 2.6 days. This is the largest series of Tiger snake envenoming reported in Australia. Only one patient of 23 (4%) died, despite all patients being significantly envenomed. With rapid antivenom treatment and modern emergency and intensive care management, most patients envenomed by Tiger snakes survive.

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