Antivenom Study: Success In Treating Dogs Bitten By North American Pit Vipers

BioVeteria Life Sciences, LLC. has developed an antivenom that has shown success in treating bites by North American Pit Vipers.

The Copperhead: BioVeteria Life Sciences, LLC., a Prescott, Ariz. bioscience company, has developed a polyvalent F(ab’)2 antivenom that consists of antibody fragments previously shown to cross neutralize the venoms from all common North American pit vipers.

BioVeteria Life Sciences, LLC., a Prescott, Ariz. bioscience company, has developed a polyvalent F(ab’)2 antivenom that consists of antibody fragments previously shown to cross neutralize the venoms from all common North American pit vipers. This new antivenom represents an evolution in antivenom development according to Craig Woods, DVM, MS, MBA, manager, BioVeteria Life Sciences, LLC.

On May 4, the private company announced the conclusion of a multi-center canine efficacy and safety study on the F(ab’)2 antivenom that Dr. Woods says is effective in counteracting venom from pit vipers. The crotalinae, or crotalines (pit vipers), are a subfamily of venomous vipers includes rattlesnakes, copperhead, cottonmouth snakes and 44 subspecies. 

“In areas where these species live, veterinary practices can see three to four snakebite cases a week for much of the year,” Woods says. “During the animal’s evaluation, the veterinarian will often find puncture wounds and treat the animal with antivenom. Because of the need for antivenoms, we are undergoing United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval for this product.”

The efficacy study evaluated 74 dogs envenomated by pit vipers in various geographical regions. Results showed that F(ab’)2 pit viper antivenom administration resulted in rapid and significant improvement in clinical scores and recovery of platelet values and clotting function. The study had no reported adverse events from the use of the new antivenom.

“Veterinarians see 10 to 20 times more snake bites than what is found in humans,” Woods says. “In the United States, anywhere from 150,000-250,000 snake bites are seen clinically every year by veterinarians compared to 8,000-10,000 snakebites in humans.”

A comprehensive report of the study titled “Evaluation of an Antivenom F(ab’)2 in 74 Dogs Envenomated by North American Pit Vipers” was presented at the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society’s 2010 annual conference and are being prepared for publication in a peer reviewed veterinary journal.

“Most bites are found on dogs’ faces and feet,” Woods says. “The sooner the dog receives treatment, the less tissue necrosis will occur. Seeing a dog within the first hour results in the best outcomes, but the animal can still benefit from antivenom if treated within 12-18 hours after being bitten.”

Woods is scheduled to speak at the lunch-and-learn continuing education series seminars at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Tucson on Aug. 10. Currently, the only antivenom on the market for animal use is manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim. BioVeteria is currently working on the development of several other antivenoms for veterinary medicine including those for scorpions, black widows and coral snakes.

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