His Pet Cobra Bit Him. Then, the Scramble for Antivenom Began

Generic antivenom initially given to victim didn't work
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2018 6:23 PM CDT
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An albino monocled cobra is shown in a stock photo.   (Getty Images / Mark Kostich)

(Newser) – A Michigan man's pet cobra bit him earlier this month, setting off a multistate hunt for the specific type of antivenom needed to save the man. The 26-year-old started vomiting about 20 minutes after being bit by the albino monocled cobra July 14; their venom is one of the fastest-acting ones in the world, USA Today reports. The man went to a local hospital but was airlifted to Detroit Medical Center after his respiratory muscles became paralyzed and he stopped breathing, Fox 2 reports. The hospital's toxicology experts got eight vials of antivenom from the Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio, and administered them to the man shortly after he got there, but he continued to get worse.

As the medical center's communications manager explains, it was a generic antivenom that "covers many, but not all species of poisonous snakes." With help from the man's family to identify the species of snake he'd been bitten by, experts were then able to figure out which type of antivenom he needed; they ultimately reached out to the Miami-Dade County Venom Response Program in Florida the morning after the bite and had 20 vials of the correct type of antivenom to give the man by the afternoon. The man, who is still hospitalized, is expected to recover.

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