Cobra bite sparks life-saving bid for antivenom for Mich. man
This month, Detroit Medical Center staffers rushed to treat an emergency case rarely encountered in southeast Michigan or the United States: a man suffering from the bite of an exotic but poisonous pet cobra.
The Pinconning Township resident initially had been rushed to a Bay County hospital late on July 14, after a bite from his albino monocled cobra quickly left him nauseated, vomiting and drowsy, DMC officials said in an email Monday.
The monocled cobra is native to India, China, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as Malaysia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Nepal and Thailand. Its highly potent venom is among the fastest acting from snakes in the world and can lead to death as soon as an hour after a bite, Reptiles Magazine reported.
The 26-year-old victim "stopped breathing due to respiratory muscle paralysis from the venom, and was intubated and placed on a breathing machine," the medical center said. "Toxicology at Detroit Medical Center was consulted, and he was airlifted from Bay County to the DMC for a higher level of care."
While the man was at Harper Hospital's intensive care unit, toxicology staff contacted the Toledo Zoo for advice. Eight vials of generic antivenom that covers many species of poisonous snakes was sent to the DMC and administered to the patient within 30 minutes of his arrival, but it had little effect and his condition continued to worsen, officials said.
The DMC then reached an emergency response team in Florida's Miami-Dade County, which has a venom-response program. Twenty vials of antivenom were flown to Detroit and administered to the patient.
"There might be only five cases such as described above in the country in a year, but the coordination it took to save this man’s life is remarkable as multiple agencies worked together to deliver the care this man needed," the DMC said.
The patient remains hospitalized and is recovering. There was no immediate word on his condition Monday night or when he would be released, spokesman Jason Barczy told The Detroit News in an email.
"It is very rare for a case like this to happen not just at the DMC or in Michigan, but there might be five cases like this around the entire country this year alone," he said.
As many as 7,000 to 8,000 people receive venomous bites in the United States each year, and about five of those victims die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.