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Revered but Poorly Understood: A Case Report of Dendroaspis polylepis (Black Mamba) Envenomation in Watamu, Malindi Kenya, and a Review of the Literature

Watamu Hospital, P.O. Box 322-80202, Watamu, Kenya
Department of Pharmacy, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, P.O. Box 849-40100, Kisumu, Kenya
Department of Public Health, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 29053-00625, Nairobi, Kenya
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Medicine, Moi University, P.O. Box 3900-30100, Eldoret, Kenya
Department of Medical Laboratory Science, College of Health Sciences, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, P.O. Box 62000-00200, Nairobi, Kenya
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2018, 3(3), 104;
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 17 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Snakebite Envenoming: Prioritizing a Neglected Tropical Disease)
The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) ranks consistently as one of the most revered snakes in sub-Saharan Africa. It has potent neurotoxic venom, and envenomation results in rapid onset and severe clinical manifestations. This report describes the clinical course and reversal of effects of black mamba envenomation in a 13-year-old boy in the Jimba area of Malindi. The victim presented to Watamu Hospital, a low resource health facility with labored breathing, frothing at the mouth, severe ptosis and pupils non-responsive to light. His blood pressure was unrecordable, heart rate was 100 beats per minute but thready, his temperature was 35.5 °C, and oxygen saturation was 83%. Management involved suction to clear salivary secretions, several hours of mechanical ventilation via ambu-bagging, oxygen saturation monitoring, and the use of South African Vaccine Producers (SAVP) polyvalent antivenom. Subcutaneous adrenaline was used to stave off anaphylaxis. The victim went into cardiac arrest on two occasions and chest compressions lasting 3–5 min was used to complement artificial ventilation. Hemodynamic instability was corrected using IV infusion of ringers lactate and normal saline (three liters over 24 h). Adequate mechanical ventilation and the use of specific antivenom remain key in the management of black mamba envenomation. View Full-Text
Keywords: black mamba; snakebite; Watamu; Dendroaspis polylepis; Kenya black mamba; snakebite; Watamu; Dendroaspis polylepis; Kenya
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MDPI and ACS Style

Erulu, V.E.; Okumu, M.O.; Ochola, F.O.; Gikunju, J.K. Revered but Poorly Understood: A Case Report of Dendroaspis polylepis (Black Mamba) Envenomation in Watamu, Malindi Kenya, and a Review of the Literature. Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2018, 3, 104.

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