Coral Snake Envenomations in Central and South America

  • Spencer GreeneEmail author
Hot Topics in Tropical Medicine (ME Bottazzi, D Abraham, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Hot Topics in Tropical Medicine
  2. Topical Collection on Hot Topics in Tropical Medicine


Purpose of Review

Snakebites are increasingly recognized as a neglected tropical disease. The purposes of this review were to determine the significance of coral snakebites in Central and South America and how best to treat these envenomations. Questions that needed to be answered included:

What is the incidence of coral snake envenomation?

What are the features of coral snake envenomation?

What are the pharmacological and nonpharmacological ways to treat these bites?

Recent Findings

Multiple case reports and series describe the clinical features of coral snake envenomations, which account for fewer than 5% of all snakebites in Central and South America. Coral snake venom is a complex mixture of neurotoxins and other biologically active substances. There are multiple coral snake antivenoms available, but no single antivenom can be used for all species.


Coral snake envenomations are characterized by motor and sensory neurotoxicity. However, muscle damage, renal injury, hematologic toxicity, electrocardiographic abnormalities, and nonspecific signs and symptoms are also possible consequences. Supportive care and antivenom are the mainstays of therapy. Pressure immobilization may prevent systemic absorption, and neostigmine may protect against paralysis. Death is uncommon if treatment is initiated promptly. Nonspecific inhibitors of various venom components may serve as a bridge to definitive therapy.


Coral snake Micrurus Envenomation Antivenom Neostigmine Snakebite 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bayou City Medical Toxicology & Emergency Medicine ConsultantsHoustonUSA

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