clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Health watch

New discoveries and methods for effective snakebite management are discussed in the recent issue of the Annals of Emergency Management, including a study of a new antivenin therapy that promises to be safer than early therapy.

Emergency physicians spearheaded development of a new antivenin for treating rattlesnake and moccasin snakebites. It can be infused within minutes, which is important when treating a life-threatening snake bite.

The therapy, Crotalidae polyvalent immune fab, has demonstrated fewer acute reactions and fewer serum sickness reactions than the main therapy used to treat snake venom poisoning over the past 40 years.

"In the past, there was only one antivenin on the market for these types of snakebites, and physicians did not like to use it because it's often associated with a high rate of adverse reactions," said Dr. Richard C. Dart of the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center in Denver. "This new antivenin made from sheep serum is highly purified and is expected to reduce adverse reactions. We believe emergency physicians will breathe a sigh of relief when they learn of the safety record and efficacy of this new antivenin therapy."

About 8,000 people a year are bitten by snakes that carry venom, and about six of them die.

Is it a cold or allergy? Often it's hard to tell

Trying to decide if your child has a cold or allergies? Since young children have as many as 10 colds a year, it can be difficult to tell.

"An itchy nose, clear nasal discharge and sneezing are common with allergies," said Dr. Vanthaya Gan, a pediatrician at Children's Medical Center of Dallas. "Other symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, frequent nose rubbing, throat clearing and possibly a dry cough. A cold is usually accompanied by a creamy, yellow or green nasal discharge, as well as a wet cough and sneezing. A low-grade fever may also be present."

Heredity may play a part in allergies as well, Gan said. Knowing which family members suffer from allergies may give a clue to seasonal allergy symptoms in older children. Allergic symptoms to indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander and mold are likely to appear throughout the year.

Pregnant women told to avoid some fish types

Food and Drug Administration is advising pregnant women and those who may become pregnant to avoid eating certain kinds of fish that can contain high levels of methyl mercury, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

As a precaution, it's also advising nursing mothers and young children to avoid those fish as well.

Those types of fish contain high levels of a form of mercury that can harm an unborn baby's developing nervous system.

Seafood can be an important part of a balanced diet for pregnant women, so the agency advises the women to select a variety of other kinds of fish.