Venomous snake bites in pregnant women can lead to poor survival rates in both the foetus and mother; early bites can precipitate teratogenesis, miscarriages, preterm delivery, foetal death and antepartum haemorrhage. The chicken embryo poses as a valuable research model for venom research due to its advantages such as ease of availability, economic feasibility and its non-invasiveness. This study evaluates the embryotoxic effects of Puff adder venom (Bitis arietans) from Namibia, Kenya, South Africa and non-specified region of Africa at varying concentrations. The venoms were applied to chicken embryos on the fourth day of incubation and assessed on a ninth day, focusing on body weight, heart weight, liver weight and mortality rate. Nile blue staining was also performed to observe the occurrence of apoptosis amongst the venoms at the strongest concentrations. The information provided from our results suggested that there was a regional variation in venom toxicity, with the Kenyan venom producing the largest weight changes, whereas the non-specified African venom proved the most lethal across the concentrations. Further studies to assess venom protein concentrations in comparison with regional diet disparities are required.
Part of the book: Medical Toxicology