A study on venom yield of Brazilian coralsnakes and its use in the evaluation of antielapidic serum

Anderson Vieira Carvalho, Caroline Ferreira David, Anita de Moura Pessoa, Nelson Jorge da Silva Jr.


AIMS: To investigate the correlation between the amount of venom produced by a true coral snake and its size, and to evaluate the production and use of antielapidic serum, taking into account size, innoculatory power, and variability of these species in different regions of Brazil.

METHODS: To assess the diversity and geographic distribution we conducted a bibliographic review and electronic search in the official site of the Brazilian Herpetological Society. Diseases Report Information System of the Ministry of Health was consulted to obtain data on the epidemiology of elapidic accidents. Data on amount of extracted venom and size of the snakes were obtained from fieldwork conducted between 1986 and 2010, which data were stored in the venom database of the Centre for Studies and Biological Research of the Catholic University of Goiás.

RESULTS: The greatest diversity of species of coral snakes are in the Northern region and the largest sample of Micrurus accidents in the Northeast region. Linear regression analysis showed a strong correlation between body size and amount of venom extracted. Most species of coral snake have small or medium size. A diversity of 35 taxa of coral snakes in Brazil has been identified, while the antielapidic serum in use in this country is produced from three species.

CONCLUSIONS: Due to the small size, which results in low innoculatory capacity, recommending high doses of antielapidic serum in accidents with coral snakes should be revised. However, the specificity of the venom of each species raises concerns about the effectiveness of antielapidic serum produced from a small number of species of coral snakes.



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15448/1980-6108.2014.2.16119

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