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Paroplocephalus envenoming: a previously unrecognised highly venomous snake in Australia


We report the first and only known case of envenoming by the Lake Cronin snake (Paroplocephalus atriceps), which is closely related to Hoplocephalus spp. A 24-year-old man was bitten while photographing the holotype of the species. He developed venom-induced consumption coagulopathy but no neurotoxicity or myotoxicity, similar to the clinical features of Hoplocephalus envenoming. He was treated with polyvalent antivenom and made a full recovery.

Clinical record

In October 1979, a venomous snake was collected at Lake Cronin, a freshwater lake in the semi-arid southern interior of Western Australia. It was the first available live specimen of a hitherto undescribed species. One of us (S K W), then a 24-year-old man with no significant past medical history, was bitten on the fingers of his right hand while photographing the specimen. He initially ignored the bite and continued taking photographs but started feeling unwell within 15 to 30 minutes, with a severe headache, generalised diaphoresis and vomiting. He washed the wound and applied a tourniquet to his right arm. He did not have dizziness or syncope but had some pain at the bite site.

He presented to hospital 40 minutes after the bite. On examination, he was alert but pale and diaphoretic, with a blood pressure…