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Classification and external resources
ICD-10 Xxx.x
ICD-9-CM xxx

Envenomation is the process by which venom is injected into some animal by the bite (or sting) of a venomous animal.[1]

Many kinds of animals, including mammals (e.g., the northern short-tailed shrew, Blarina brevicauda), reptiles (e.g., the king cobra)[2] spiders (e.g., black widows),[3] and insects (e.g., wasps, honey bees, ants and caterpillars), employ venom for hunting and for self-defense.


Compared to the deaths caused by hymenopteran stings (40 to 100), the deaths that result from snake bites (20,000 to 100,000), make protocol to treat snake bites much more extensive.[4] Nonnative organisms that are present can cause injuries that cannot be treated by local treatments.[4]


Most venoms are administered by biting the skin of the victim, but some venoms are applied externally, especially to sensitive tissues such as those that surround the eyes. In some reptiles, such as the Gila monster, venom in the saliva enters prey through bites of grooved teeth, but many animals have specialized organs such as hollow teeth (fangs) and tubular stingers that penetrate the prey's skin after which muscles attached to the attacker's venom reservoir forcibly squirt venom deep within the victim's body tissue. Death may occur as a result of bites or stings. The rate of envenoming is described as the likelihood of venom successfully entering a system upon bite or sting.

Diagnosis and treatment[edit]

Diagnosing snake envenomation is a crucial step in determining which antivenom is to be applied. Each year there are around 2 million cases of snake envenomation and up to 100,000 deaths worldwide.[2] Various anti-venom treatments exist, typically consisting of antibodies or antibody fragments, which neutralize the venom. There are certain snakes that require certain treatments, such as pit vipers and coral snakes. Anti-venom therapy can also be used to treat the effects that venom has on humans. Anti-venom therapy is meant to treat hemorrhaging and coagulation. [4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ WEINSTEIN, SCOTT A.; DART, RICHARD C.; et al. (15 October 2009). "Envenomations: An Overview of Clinical Toxinology for the Primary Care Physician". American Family Physician. 80 (8): 793–802. 
  2. ^ a b Maduwage, Kalana; O'Leary, Margaret A.; Isbister, Geoffrey K. (2014). "Diagnosis of snake envenomation using a simple phospholipase A2 assay". Scientific Reports. 4. doi:10.1038/srep04827. 
  3. ^ GRAUDINS, A., M. J. LITTLE, S. S. PINEDA, P. G. HAINS, G. F. KING et al., 2012 Cloning and activity of a novel α-latrotoxin from red-back spider venom. Biochemical Pharmacology 83: 170–183.
  4. ^ a b c Weinstein, Scott; Dart, Richard; Staples, Alan; White, Julian (2009-10-15). "Envenomations: An Overview of Clinical Toxinology for the Primary Care Physician". American Family Physician. 80 (8). ISSN 0002-838X.