A new study reveals that DNA tests could be used to identify if the bite of a snake on an individual is venomous or not.
Researchers could collect snake DNA from all the regions in the world. Doing so they could test the bite on an individual and compare it to the DNA database to see if the snake that bit the person is venomous or not. The scientists believe that this method could increase the survival rate in people that have been bitten by snakes. This could especially be proven useful in areas in which snakes are found in very large numbers and snakebites are very common. This method, however, will require the collection of an enormous quantity of snake DNA; all of them, to be specific.
Dr. Ulrich Kuch from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany and part of the Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine compares this method to the one used by police officers that compare DNA found at crime scenes to the ones in their DNA database in order to catch criminals.
At the moment, this test cannot treat and be used to rapidly diagnose snakebites but officials expect this to be a possibility if they further their research and analysis.
As claimed by a study from 2008, there are over 420,000 people that are bitten and poisoned by snake every year. Out of these 420,000 about 100,000 of them die and 300,000 or more end up being permanently disabled. This study also claims that it is impossible to speak of a precise number of snakebites as most of them are not reported.
Francois Chappuis from the Geneva University states that in South Asia, most people don’t even search for medical treatment after being bitten by a snake. If they however turn to medical treatment, most people don’t take the snake with them to the clinic. This makes it very difficult for medical staff to identify the snake that bit the person.
Dr. Kuch goes on to say in connection to the new test that:
“This type of test detects venom. And venom can be detected in the blood of the patient or in urine or from the bite site, as well. Now, we are going for a blood test because snake bite patients when they reach medical care—they have one blood sample taken for clotting tests and some other laboratory examinations. So you can use the blood from the same samples to do this diagnostic test.”