Snake Venom Ophthalmia and Blindness Caused by the Spitting Cobra (Naja Nigricollis) in Nigeria

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  • Department of Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria

Venom entered the eyes of 9 patients spat at by the spitting cobra, Naja nigricollis. In 5 the only effect was a simple conjunctivitis but 4 had corneal ulceration, 1 developed anterior uveitis indicating absorption of venom in the anterior chamber, and 2 were permanently blinded. Treatment of this rare emergency is discussed: immediate irrigation of the eye with water, careful examination for corneal abrasion, and prevention of secondary infection are recommended. The value of local specific antivenom is unproven.

Author Notes

Present address and address for reprints: The Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford OX2 6HE, England.