Volume 8, Issue 2_Part_1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



The Sakishima habu, (Gray, 1849) has been reported only on islands of Yaeyama-retto, Sakishima-gunto, about 240 miles south of Okinawa. Color and scutellation serve to distinguish this species from other pit-vipers of the Ryukyu islands and Taiwan. Reddish-brown snakes, differing from typical only in coloration, are rarely taken. is smaller than the Okinawan habu, and adult specimens are usually between 3 and 4 feet in length. On the islands where it occurs, is found in several types of terrain, and is active mainly at night.

Venom of was not neutralized in therapeutically significant amounts by an antivenin produced at Tokyo University, or by a polyvalent antivenin produced by Wyeth Laboratories. The latter product, Antivenin Crotalidae Polyvalent (North and South American Antisnakebite Serum), was highly effective in neutralizing venoms of some Asian species of the genera and , but almost without effect against venoms of other snakes of these genera.

Clinical observations reported were based on a series of 24 cases of snake bite due to , which occurred between December, 1950, and December, 1955, on islands of Yaeyama-retto. Most of these bites had been inflicted at night, and were seen during summer and autumn months. Most of the bites were located on the legs and hands. Symptoms included hemorrhagic spots at fang punctures, pain, swelling and cyanosis. Localized necrosis was severe in some patients. Only two patients of the 24 in the series developed general symptoms.

Treatment included incision and cleaning of the bitten area; administration of antivenin produced in Tokyo; and supportive treatment, including use of vita-camphor, cardiac stimulants, Ringer's solution, and dextrose injections. Tissue damage occurred in some patients who had applied tourniquets and had allowed them to remain in place for long periods of time. There was also some local tissue damage in patients who had burned the bitten areas as a first-aid measure. Dressings with 5% solution of KMnO were applied in five cases, but were discontinued when they proved to be without therapeutic effect.

Only one fatal case was seen. This patient, an adult male, developed the usual symptoms, and several hours after the bite was inflicted experienced difficulty in breathing. Chest pains were felt; the pulse became fast and weak; the nails became cyanotic, and the patient expired 24 hours after being bitten.


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