Fatal lancehead pit viper (Bothrops spp.) envenomation in horses

Mizael Machado, Tais Meziara Wilson, Davi Emanuel Ribeiro de Sousa, Antônio Carlos Lopes Câmara, Fernando Henrique Furlan, Juliana Targino Silva Almeida e Macêdo, Rayane Chitolina Pupin, Ricardo Antônio Amaral de Lemos, Anibal G. Armién, Severo Sales Barros, Franklin Riet-Correa, Márcio Botelho de Castro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Snake bite envenomations in farm animals are generally overestimated as the cause of mortality in rural areas in Latin America. However, most cases are based only on anecdotal information and assumptions, and lack diagnostic evidence. There are few proven reports of envenomation and death in horses caused by snakebites from members of the Bothrops genus (lancehead pit vipers). This study presents epidemiological and clinical-pathological findings of fatal bothropic envenomation in horses from Central Western Brazil in order to contribute to the correct diagnosis of this condition. A survey of the records of equine necropsies from the Veterinary Pathology Laboratories of the University of Brasilia, Federal University of Mato Grosso and Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, from January 2010 to February 2018, was performed. Five fatal cases of bothropic snakebite were identified in 755 necropsies of horses, corresponding to 0.66% of these cases, ranging annually from 0.33% to 0.89%. The main necropsy findings were marked swelling and diffuse subcutaneous hemorrhage, and identification of the fang marks in 2 out of five horses. Hemorrhage in most organs and tissues was the pathological hallmark of systemic envenomation. Myonecrosis, dermonecrosis, and moderate to severe kidney degeneration and necrosis were also observed. Fatal Bothrops snakebites in horses have a low occurrence in Central Western Brazil and most cases occur in the rainy season. The diagnosis of this condition may be substantiated by clinical signs and pathological findings. Local hemorrhage and necrosis, systemic hemorrhagic disorders and injuries related to acute kidney injury are the predominant clinical signs. These findings should be considered in the diagnosis and therapeutic management of these envenomations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Special thanks to Dr. Claudio Severo Lombardo de Barros (Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul) for the technical assistance in the pathological diagnosis and to Anderson Saravia (National Institute of Agricultural Research of Uruguay - Inia, La Estanzuela) for the aid in the making of the map. Thanks are due to Dr. José María Gutiérrez for the critical reading of the manuscript and suggestions. This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001.


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Bothrops
  • Coagulopathy
  • Endothelial injury
  • Horses
  • Snake
  • Snakebite

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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