Indian Snake Poisons, Their Nature and Effects

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Indian Snake Poisons, Their Nature and Effects
by Alfred John Wall

INDIAN SNAKE POISONS,

THEIR

NATURE AND EFFECTS.


BY

A. J. WALL, M.D. (LOND.).

FELLOW OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS OF ENGLAND;
OF THE MEDICAL STAFF, H.M.'S INDIAN ARMY.



LONDON :
W. H. ALLEN & CO., 13, WATERLOO PLACE,

PALL MALL. S.W.


1883.

(All rights reserved.)

LONDON
PRINTED BY W. H. ALLEN AND CO., 13 WATERLOO PLACE.

TO

SIR JOSEPH FAYRER, K.C.S.I.,

LL.D., M.D., F.R.S., etc.,


WHO,

WHILST PERFORMING ABDUOUS PUBLIC SERVICES,

HAS LABOURED SO SUCCESSFULLY IN THE

VAST TERRITORY OF TROPICAL PATHOLOGY AS TO UNITE HIS

NAME INSEPARABLY WITH MANY PROVINCES OF IT,

AND ESPECIALLY WITH THAT RELATING TO

THE INDIAN THANATOPHIDIA,

THIS WORK,

INTENDED FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR ORIENTAL

FELLOW SUBJECTS,

IS DEDICATED,

AS A SLIGHT EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE

FOR MUCH KINDNESS,

BY

The Author

.

PREFACE.


The following is an attempt to present in a concise form the chief features of snake-poisoning as seen in India. The object that has been kept in view has been to define, as closely as possible, the conditions on which the mortality from snake-bite depends, both as regards the physiological nature of the poisoning process, and the relations between the reptiles and their victims, so as to indicate the way in which we should best proceed with the hope of diminishing the fearful mortality that exists.

The observations were made by the author in India under the auspices of the Government. It was during the experiments made for the purpose of finding out the exact cause of the fatal results — one of the first steps that must be taken whenever a method of treatment is sought — that the great and numerous differences in the effects of the various poisons became manifest.

Although every effort has been made to test the various remedies that have been proposed for snakebite — and they have been very many — it has not been thought necessary to give the unsatisfactory results of the various trials. The effect of potassium permanganate in destroying the activity of cobra-poison when mixed with it before injection was ascertained by the author some four years ago, but frequent experiment has convinced him that as a practical method of treating the constitutional effects of the poison it is of no avail.

The recommendations for treatment given have been tested practically, and the circumstances under which the misfortune happens have been constantly borne in mind. Cases of poisoning by snakes do not usually occur in crowded cities with hospitals always open, vyith every appliance to receive the sufferer, but in the fields where the peasant steps on the lurking reptile, or more frequently still in the remote village where the wife is bitten in a dark corner of her hut by the snake which superstition has compelled her household to protect. Directions for treatment, to be of use, must be adapted to these contingencies.

The snakes mentioned have been referred to, as a rule, by their scientific names. Had vernacular terms been employed it would not have been possible to select any that would have been intelligible except in very limited areas. Thus the Bungarus cœruleus is the Krait of Bengal, but the Gedi Paragúdú of the Coromandel coast. The Echis carinata is Afaë of Delhi, the Kupper of Scinde, and the Foorsa of Bombay. The word cobra has been used as it is of general acceptance, though quite unknown in any native dialect; we are indebted for it to our Portuguese predecessors. It is to be regretted that its scientific equivalent is Naja instead of Naga, as representing more accurately the Sanscrit Nág, a serpent, in which it had its origin.

Although the gravity of a case of snake-poisoning can hardly be over-estimated, yet it must be considered full of promise that recovery may follow even the severe hæmorrhages of viperine poisoning. No wound inflicted by a venomous snake can be despised, yet even when symptoms have developed no case should be considered necessarily fatal. It is hoped that the suggestions made may be of practical use to those who have to deal with this awful scourge, and that the facts here demonstrated may form a starting point for some more successful departure.


CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

The Physiological Effects of the Poison of the Cobra (Naja Tripudians) 1-48

CHAPTER II.

The Physiological Effects of the Poison of Russell's Viper (Daboia Russellii) 49-83

CHAPTER III.

The Physiological Effects produced by the Poisons of the Bungarus fasciatus and the Bungarus cœruleus 84-103

CHAPTER IV.

The Relative Power and Properties of the Poisons of Indian and other Venomous Snakes 104-116

CHAPTER V.

The Nature of Snake Poisons 117-135

CHAPTER VI.

Some Practical Considerations connected with the Subject of Snake-Poisoning, especially regarding Prevention and Treatment 136-163

INDEX 165

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

I. — Tracings of Respiratory Movements of a Fowl under gradual Cobra-poisoning to face p. 33

II. — Respiratory Tracings from a Fowl that died very rapidly from a large dose of Cobra-poison. The Tracings are nearly continuous p. 34

III. — Tracings of Respiratory Movements of a Dog with Cobra-poisoning p. 35

IV. — Tracings of Respiratory Movements of a Cat under the influence of Cobra-poison p. 36

V. — Continuous Tracings of Respiratory Movements of a Dog from the moment of Intravenous Injection of Cobra-poison till Death p. 37

VI. — Tracings of Respiratory Movements in Fowl under the influence of Daboia-poison p. 72

VII. — Tracings of Respiratory Movements in a Fowl under the influence of Daboia-poison that had been heated to 100°C p.73

VIII. — Tracings of Respiratory Movements of a Dog under Daboia-poisoning p.74

IX. — Tracings of Respiratory Movements of a Fowl under the influence of the Poison of the Bungarus fasoiatus p. 98

Head of the Daboia Russellii, and of the Naja Tripudians (Cobra) p. 114

Structures found in the Poison of the Naja Tripudians (Cobra) p. 118

Structures found in the Poison of the Daboia Russellii , p. 119


Contents[edit]

  • Preface
  • Contents and List of Illustrations
  • Chapter I — The Physiological Effects of the Poison of the Cobra (Naja Tripudians)
  • Chapter II — The Physiological Effects of the Poison of Russell's Viper (Daboia Russellii)
  • Chapter III — The Physiological Effects produced by the Poisons of the Bungarus fasciatus and the Bungarus cœruleus
  • Chapter IV — The Relative Power and Properties of the Poisons of Indian and other Venomous Snakes
  • Chapter V — The Nature of Snake Poisons
  • Chapter VI — Some Practical Considerations connected with the Subject of Snake-Poisoning, especially regarding Prevention and Treatment
  • Index