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Systemic Anaphylaxis After Rattlesnake Bite

Elliot F. Ellis, MD; Richard T. Smith, MD
JAMA. 1965;193(5):401-402. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090050077030.
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ALLERGIC sensitization to rattlesnake venom was first reported in 1930.1 Since then, venom from all the major snake families has been implicated in the relatively few reports of allergic reactions to venom that have appeared in the literature.2-6 These allergic reactions have been chiefly of the mucousmembrane sensitivity type involving the eye, nose, and lower respiratory tract. To our knowledge, documented systemic anaphylaxis after venenation has not been reported. Therefore, occurrence of systemic anaphylaxis after rattlesnake bite in a professional snake handler, who had been seen previously for mucous-membrane sensitivities of an allergic nature, was of interest.

The purpose of this communication is to call attention to the fact that an immediate collapse reaction after venenation may very well be due to allergy rather than to a "toxicity." There is a distinct possibility that sudden death after snake bite —perhaps erroneously attributed in the past to massive venenation—may


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