Gaboon viper antivenom in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, say officials - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Gaboon viper antivenom in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, say officials

Posted: Updated:
  • Related LinksMore>>

  • Gaboon Viper still thought to be on the loose

    Gaboon Viper still thought to be on the loose

    Monday, April 7 2014 7:10 PM EDT2014-04-07 23:10:09 GMT
    Four days have passed and officials have still had no luck in finding one of world's most venomous snakes — the Gaboon Viper. The snake is thought to be on the loose in Mt. Pleasant.
    More >>
    Four days have passed and officials have still had no luck in finding one of world's most venomous snakes — the Gaboon Viper. The snake is thought to be on the loose in Mt. Pleasant.
    More >>
  • Hunt for snake near starting line of Bridge Run

    Hunt for snake near starting line of Bridge Run

    Saturday, April 5 2014 7:25 AM EDT2014-04-05 11:25:29 GMT
    A crew from the Edisto Island Serpentarium is heading out to an apartment complex near the Cooper River Bridge Run starting line, searching for what could be a highly venomous snake.More >>
    A crew from the Edisto Island Serpentarium is heading out to an apartment complex near the Cooper River Bridge Run starting line, searching for what could be a highly venomous snake.More >>

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) – Antivenom for a Gaboon viper bite is less than two hours away from Charleston. That's the word from officials in Columbia and Myrtle Beach.

According to officials at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia and at Alligator Adventure in Myrtle Beach, the two locations are the only places in the state of South Carolina with antivenom for a Gaboon viper bite.

Thad Bowman, a paramedic in Myrtle Beach and animal care expert at Alligator Adventure, one of the largest reptile facilities in the world, said he trained with the Miami-Dade Venom Response Team and has the ability to treat someone who has been envenomed by a Gaboon viper. The Miami-Dade team is world-renowned for its expertise in handling bites from venomous insects and animals.

It also houses the largest and only antivenom bank for public use in the United States.

However, according to officials at the Miami-Dade Venom Response Team, the treatment for a Gaboon viper bite is not FDA approved because it's primarily used in Africa.

Scott Mullin said that means usually only zoos and special facilities in North America will have the permits necessary for the antivenom. He said there are several different requirements that must be met and a lot of paperwork that has to be completed before the permit is issued.

Mullin said the drug won't be in any American hospital because those all require FDA approval.

Instead, if someone was bitten by a Gaboon viper in the Lowcountry, the local hospital would call Palmetto Poison Control to coordinate getting a dose of antivenom from Columbia or Myrtle Beach.

It would likely take a couple of hours to have the serum flown in, Mullin said.

Officials with the Riverbanks Zoo also dispelled some myths that had been spread through local media from area snake handlers.

Scott Pfaff, the curator of herpetology at the zoo, said the Gaboon viper is actually a very docile creature with a hemotoxic venom meaning it attacks tissue and acts more slowly than venoms of other snakes.

Pfaff said the bite can be deadly, but he says putting a time frame on how quickly that would happen is difficult because it would depend on several factors including height and weight of the victim, the size of the snake, and the location of the bite.

He said reports that were put out by area snake handlers that put death at 30 minutes were misleading. Instead, he thought death would happen within a much wide time frame of several hours up to two days from the time of the bite.

Pfaff also said that if there is a snake on the loose in Mount Pleasant, it would be in hiding because it did not want to be found. Since the snake's home environment is subtropical, Pfaff said a cold snap could kill the snake if it did not find a warm place to be.

Meanwhile, multiple searches for the snake have not yielded any new clues as its possible location or confirmed its existence in the wooded area around a Mount Pleasant apartment complex. 

Most Popular

Stories
Videos

Like Us On Facebook


Powered by WorldNow

ABCNews4 WCIV-TV

888 Allbritton Dr.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
843-881-4444 | Advertising Information

Public Information File

For assistance with accessing WCIV-TV's public information file, click here.

Advertising

Advertising Credit Application and Terms and Conditions PDF.

Powered by WorldNow
All content Copyright © 2014 WCIV and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.