Canine adder bites in the UK: a retrospective study of cases reported to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service

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This retrospective study examined cases with follow-up reported to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) between September 1985 and December 2010. Most bites (69.2 per cent) occurred between April and July, particularly between 15:00 and 16:00 hours. Adder bites were more frequently reported in the south-east of England, particularly in Surrey. Swelling to the face and limbs was common, as was lethargy, depression, hyperthermia and tachycardia. About two-thirds of dogs developed both systemic and local effects, while a third developed local effects alone. Initial clinical effects usually occurred within two hours, with full recovery typically occurring five days after the bite. Antivenom was used in 55.9 per cent of cases and appeared to significantly reduce duration of oedema from an average of 94 to 47 hours. Adder bites can cause significant morbidity (97 per cent of dogs were symptomatic), but mortality is low (4.6 per cent died).

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