Snake venom plea after adder attack

A VET has highlighted a national shortage of a life-saving drug after a dog was bitten by a venomous snake.

A three-year-old black Labrador was rushed to Dave Hopper's practice after an adder attack in Ostler's Plantation near Kirkby Lane in Woodhall Spa.

Calls to stockists across Lincolnshire and further afield for supplies of antivenin – a drug used to combat snake venom – proved futile. Powerful steroids and antibiotics had to be used instead.

Mr Hopper, of Vet on the Corner in Horncastle, said: "I find it extremely worrying that no doctors, pharmacies or hospitals had any antivenin in stock.

"There should be a facility or network to make it available and doctors should know where it is."

He said a specialist in Oxford had supplies but there was not enough time to get it to Horncastle.

Alex Campbell, branch manager at the Veterinary Poisons Information Service in London, told the News there is currently a national shortage of antivenin.

He said: "If you are in an adder rich area you need to be vigilant."

Mr Campbell said people are given priority while NHS supplies of antivenin are limited.

He said: "We try and advise vets to hold a supply or to have a good relationship with their local accident and emergency department."

The dog's owner, Jacqui Guthrie of Woodhall Spa, praised Mr Hopper and said her dog Kelly, who could have lost a leg or even her life if treatment had not been swift, will make a full recovery.

She was walking Kelly and another dog with a friend in the woods on Wednesday when Kelly was attacked.

Mrs Guthrie said: "I started panicking. You could see Kelly's leg getting bigger and bigger. God forbid if it had been a child."

She called for warning signs to be put up in areas where adders are rife but Wally Grice, Forestry Commission beat officer for the area, said signs would put adders – a protected species – and their habitat at risk.

*A spokesperson for United Lincolnshire Hospitals said antivenin supplies for humans are stocked in central locations due to the rarity of the drug and its infrequent use.

They said Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Nottingham City Hospital and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield all currently stock antivenin supplies for human use.

* Have you or has your pet been attacked by an adder? Email or write to the Editor, Horncastle News, Church Lane, Horncastle LN9 5HW.