Clinical Toxinology Resources Home
  Snakebite - haemolytic effects

Snakebite Haemolytic Effects

Many snake venoms contain components that can destroy human red blood cells (haemolysis), most commonly varieties of phospholipases. However, clinically significant haemolysis is not common after bites by most species. If haemolysis occurs at all, it is usually only minor, insufficient to cause either significant anaemia or secondary renal failure. A few snakes may cause significant haemolysis, which may, in turn, result in secondary kidney damage, even kidney failure.

A more common cause of haemolysis following snakebite is a secondary effect of a coagulopathy, induced by venom components. As the venom stimulates clot formation, strands of fibrinogen, the clotting protein, may form in blood vessels. As red blood cells pass through such strands of protein, they may be partially or completely destroyed, resulting in a microangiopathic haemolytic anaemia. There is true haemolysis, but it is not caused by direct venom damage to the red cells.