Venomous snake bites may be treated with Antivenom. Snake antivenins are a man-made biological product called anti-ophidic serum. Anivenom serum treatment are based on the vaccine process developed by Louis Pasteur.
Anti- snake venom (ASV) is a specific antidote to snake venom actions. ASV is most prestigious and valued; its preparation involves catching or parking snakes, milking of snakes at laboratory, immunizing horses with venom. Hence ASV should be used only in a indicated case in proper doses to prevents crisis of its supply. In India Snake Antivenom is effective on most snake bite victims, but only if administered within an extremely narrow window of opportunity. Scientists obtain venom from live snake specimens - sometimes called "milking a snake" usually with the snake striking cloth placed over covered glass jars. Every drop of venom retrieved through this forced bite process is precious in procuring Antivenins for poisonous snake species. Polyvalent ASV is available which contain antibody against cobra, Russell’s viper, common krait and saw-scaled viper. Five lakh ASV vials are manufactured by the four institutes (Haffkine Institute, Mumbai, Serum institute, Pune, King Institute, Chennai, Central Research Institute, Kasauli).
Total amount of venom injected by snakes:
cobra 120 mg, Russell’s viper 150 mg, krait 60 mg and Echis carinatus 80 mg. amount of venom neutralized by one ml of polyvalant ASV is known viz. cobra 0.6mg, Russell’s viper 0.6mg, krait 0.45 and Echis carinatus 0.45 mg. In India commercially produced ASV is relatively cheap as compared to Western countries.4 One vial of ASV costs Rs.400. Majority of snake bite victims are reported to government hospitals because ASV is given free of cost, still many victims delays hospitalization and vital time is killed by attending to "Mantrik".
This snake venom is then injected in small amounts into mammals such as horses, sheep, or rabbits. These animals have an immune response whereby antibodies against the venom are generated naturally. The Antivenom is then harvested from the blood of the animal, purified and stored to treat future envenomation for snake bite victims.
Antivenoms are normally administered to the victim as soon as possible following a snake bite attack - usually with 4-5 hours. Since the advent of Antivenom, many snake bites which were almost always fatal have become only fatal rarely if it can administered to the victim in a timely manner. Even though the antivenins are purified by multiple processes, it may contain other serum proteins and some individuals may have an extreme hypersensitive reaction to the injection and is only administered exercising caution.
Snake bites are often times on an individual's extremities (hands and feet) where there is little muscle tissue to absorb the venom injected in the bite. Normally antivenins are stored in freeze-dried ampules and injected into muscular areas for absorption. Some antivenin is only effective in liquid form and must be stored by a method called "cold chain" storage.
Availability of Snake-antivenoms.