Venomous Snakebites in Canada: A National Review of Patient Epidemiology and Antivenom Usage

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Abstract

Introduction: There are 3 pit viper species in Canada. Limited Canadian literature exists on the epidemiology of venomous snakebites and the treatment patterns with antivenom. This study described the epidemiology, the utilization of antivenom, and estimated expenditures due to forfeited antivenom for pit viper envenomations in Canada. Methods: A retrospective review of the Health Canada Special Access Program records to generate descriptive statistics. Data are presented as mean±SD (range), as appropriate. Results: The geographic distribution of Canadian pit viper species is presented. There were 99 envenomations reported in Canada from January 2009 to December 2015. The number of envenomations per year was 14±6 (6−21). CroFab and Antivipmyn are used in Canada to treat envenomations. The number of vials for patient treatment was 17±12 (3−66) and 16±9 (6−42) for CroFab and Antivipmyn, respectively. Antivenom stock usage for patient treatment varied across the country with provincial means reported for British Columbia (33%), Alberta (37%), Saskatchewan (27%), and Ontario (71%). The costs incurred secondary to forfeited stock where estimated as: $1,280,000 USD in British Columbia, $255,000 in Alberta, $60,000 in Saskatchewan, and $0 in Ontario. Conclusions: The absolute number of annual envenomations is small and the 3 Crotalinae species are limited to relatively narrow geographic areas in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. The utilization of antivenom in the treatment of patients revealed that regions where the western and prairie rattlesnake reside forfeited a substantial amount of antivenom from 2009 to 2015. Organizations responsible for maintaining antivenom supplies on a provincial or regional level could use these data to guide antidote stocking and reduce costs.

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Curran-Sills, G., & Kroeker, J. (2018). Venomous Snakebites in Canada: A National Review of Patient Epidemiology and Antivenom Usage. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, 29(4), 437–445. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2018.06.005

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