Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Adder bite

Synonym(s): European adder, Vipera berus berus

Contributor(s): Nicola Bates , Ben Dustan

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Introduction

  • Cause: envenomation by the European adder (Vipera berus berus).
  • Signs: local swelling and depression.
  • Diagnosis: based on clinical signs, time of year and known area where adders are found. 
  • Treatment: supportive.
  • Prognosis: favorable in most cases, but mortality can occur when there is uncontrollable infection and necrosis at the bite site (particularly sub-mandibular bites).

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Adders are not aggressive but may bite if provoked. 
  • Not all bites result in envenomation; a dry bite may occur, where no venom in injected.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Occurs in the spring and summer months.

Pathophysiology

  • The exact composition of adder venom is unknown and there are seasonal, individual and geographical differences.
  • The venom is a complex mixture of high molecular weight proteins, mainly proteases, peptide hydrolases, hyaluronidase and phospholipases.
  • Hypovolemia and local edema result from an increase in vascular permeability, due initially to release of pharmacologically active substances.
  • Local hemorrhage is due to cytolytic and hemolytic factors in the venom.
  • Cardiac effects may be due to impaired circulation and poor perfusion of the myocardium, due to coronary spasm and hypovolemia.
  • The venom has a myotoxic effect.

Timecourse

  • Signs of swelling typically occur within 2 hours and progress over 24 hours or more.
  • Recovery may take a few days.

Epidemiology

  • Cases of envenomation generally occur in spring and summer months when the snakes are active.
  • It is likely snake bite in cattle is underreported since the act of biting is usually unobserved.
  • Few cases in cattle are described in the literature.
  • Cattle are usually bitten around the mouth and submandibular region, but also on the udder, tongue, leg or shoulder.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Yeruham I, Avidar Y (2000) Lethality in a ram from the bite of a Palestine viper (Vipera xanthine palestinae). Veterinary and Human Toxicology 44, 26-27 PubMed.
  • Calderón L, Lomonte B, Gutiérrez J M, Tarkowski A & Hanson L A (1993) Biological and biochemical activities of Vipera berus (European viper) venom. Toxicon 31 (6), 743-53.
  • Arbuckle J B R (1991) Facial swelling in cattle, probably due to adder bites. Veterinary Record 128 (5), 111 PubMed.
  • Siigur E, Siigur J, Nommeots M & Ilomets T (1979) Fractionation and enzymatic activities of common viper (Vipera berus berus) venom. Toxicon 17 (6), 623-630 PubMed.

Other Sources

  • Plumb D C (2015) Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook. 5th edn. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Ames, Iowa.

Organisation(s)


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