A man in Selangor died after he was bitten by a puff adder, a highly venomous snake brought in from the African continent.
According to NST, the man was helping his friend, who was an exotic pet keeper, when he was bitten on both his right and left hand on Friday (6 May).
Unfortunately, the high venom load led to a more severe envenomation syndrome and the victim died 23 hours post-incident while the antivenom (Antivipmyn-Africa) was being procured from the Singapore Zoo.
Meanwhile, attempts to capture the exotic snake have been futile but the authorities believe that the snake might still be in the owner’s possession and hidden somewhere.
Both the victim and owner told doctors they didn’t know where it went. The snake got away while the owner was trying to save the victim.
Speaking to NST, Associate Professor Dr Ahmad Khaldun Ismail from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Department of Emergency Medicine said this was the first recorded case of a snakebite envenoming from this snake species in Malaysia.
He then mentioned that there were only 2 cases of bite envenoming from exotic rattlesnakes previously.
“This incident highlights the danger of keeping exotic venomous animals without proper documentation and registration with the authorities.” he said.
“This is the current level of safety and health-seeking mentality of related authorities and our public that we are facing in Malaysia. A really sad state of affairs.” he added.
The puff adder (Bitis arietans) is estimated to cause over 40,000 deaths in Africa each year and without appropriate clinical management and anti-venom, chances of saving lives are low.
With this, Dr Ahmad stressed the importance for exotic pet owners to have a plan and access to the appropriate and adequate anti-venom if they’re going to keep a medically significant species.
“However, it is entirely inappropriate to expect any medical facility in the country to stock exotic animals’ anti-venoms or to get it from zoos.”
“It is the responsibility of the one bringing in the exotic venomous species, to also bring in the appropriate and adequate anti-venom for the exotic species.” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Teo Eng Wah, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya and a co-author of a book on snakes in Malaysia, was also asked to help look out for the snake.
“The snake could be anywhere after two days and I am not even sure if the snake had escaped.” he told NST.