Epidemiology, Clinical Features, and Management of Texas Coral Snake (Micrurus tener) Envenomations Reported to the North American Snakebite Registry


INTRODUCTION: Few of the 5000-8000 snakebites reported to poison control centers annually in the USA are attributed to coral snakes. This study describes Texas coral snake envenomations reported to the North American Snakebite Registry.

METHODS: All Texas coral snake envenomation cases reported to the registry were identified for the period from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2019. Data reviewed for this study included details regarding the snake encounter, patient demographics, signs and symptoms, treatment, and outcomes. Descriptive statistics were used to report results.

RESULTS: Ten men and four nonpregnant women reported coral snake bites. The median patient age was 15.5 (range 5-72 years). There were 12 upper extremity bites and two bites to the lower extremity. The most common symptoms reported were paresthesias and pain. All subjects had paresthesias, often described as an "electric" sensation. Seven patients described them as painful. The most common clinical findings were erythema and swelling. No patient developed tissue damage, hematotoxicity, rhabdomyolysis, hypotension, weakness, or respiratory symptoms. Thirteen subjects were treated with opioids. Six patients were treated with antiemetics: three prophylactically and two for opioid-induced nausea. One patient developed nausea and non-bloody, nonbilious emesis within 1 hour of the bite, prior to receiving opioids. No patients were treated with antivenom. Antibiotics were not administered to any patient, and no infections were reported.

CONCLUSIONS: Envenomations from M. tener in Southeast Texas are characterized by painful paresthesias. Mild swelling and erythema are common. Neurotoxicity necessitating antivenom or mechanical ventilation did not occur.

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Published in Journal of Medical Toxicology, v. 17, issue 1.

Copyright © American College of Medical Toxicology 2020

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ACMT receives grant support from BTG International to support the North American Snakebite Registry.