Indonesia Needs to Develop a Range of Poisonous Snakebite Serum Vaccines
Dr. Tri Mahawani, an expert in snake bites and toxicology from the Doctor Ramlan Hospital in Surabaya (East Java), told Metrobali.com that Indonesia needs to develop monovalent vaccines as antidotes for poisonous snake bite. Dr. Mahawani, a specialist in the emergency treatment of snake bites, said: “At this time Indonesia only has a polyvalent snake venom serum (SABU) used to treat all types of snake bites, but not monovalent varieties to be used in the treatment of bites from specific poisonous snake species – even though monvalent serums have been proven very effective.”
The doctor said that medical personnel in Indonesia need to undergo training to understand the entire range of snake venoms in order to use monovalent vaccines effectively. “This is the focus of our attention, because at this point there are only 27 people (in Indonesia) with a sub-specialty in snake bites and I am the only doctors with a specialty in toxicology,” explained Dr. Mahawani.
The doctor went on to expose that snakebites in Indonesia are a frequent occurrence. Base on data gathered between 2011-2014 form hospitals in five cities (Malang, Surabaya, Serang, Batam and Merauke) there were more than 200 cases of snakebites each year with 40% of the cases proving fatal. “This total,” explained Dr. Mahawani, “may be higher because only cases treated at hospitals were recorded, while those at community medical centers (Puskesmas) are sometimes not recorded.”
Because of this, Dr. Mahawani is working with The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and Biofarma to develop monovalent vaccine serums that will form part of a 2015 national science competition. “We are seeking to win the prize of 500 million rupiah (US$41,600) to pay for research over the coming five years,” she said. The monovalent serum vaccines that will be developed by the team will be for the specific types of poisonous snakes found in Indonesia – necessarily different from those currently produced in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
Continuing, Dr. Maharani said, “We hope that (Indonesian) medical personnel will possess knowledge, skills and networks in handling snakebites thereby increasing the number of those saved from death resulting from snakebites.” To improve networking, Mahawani and her team will launch in December accounts in the social media for the discussion of how to handle snakebites and socialize the use of monovalent serum vaccines for use by practitioners, academics and the general public to seeking answersm on questions about poisonous snake bites.
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