No Change in the Use of Antivenom in Copperhead Snakebites in Ohio

Walker B. Plash, Uwe Stolz, Sheila Goertemoeller, Edward J. Otten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Historically, copperhead snake (Agkistrodon contortrix) envenomations were not treated with antivenom owing to related adverse events and little benefit. However, recent studies have shown improved outcomes with antivenom use. We hypothesized that the frequency of antivenom use for copperhead envenomation in Ohio has increased as benefits of administration became more widely known. Methods: All copperhead snakebites reported to the Ohio poison control centers from 2006 through 2016 were compiled. Antivenom use, bite severity, and disposition were abstracted. A nonparametric test for trend was used to evaluate changes over time for the number of patients treated with antivenom and patient disposition. Logistic regression was used to assess the odds of admission vs discharge with antivenom administration, bite severity, age, and sex as independent variables. Results: Ninety-eight patients reported copperhead snakebites to the poison control centers. The test of trend showed no change in the proportion of patients treated with antivenom by year (P=0.42). There was no difference in the proportion of patients discharged home (P=0.38) per year. Logistic regression showed antivenom use was associated with an odds ratio for admission of 46.7 (95% CI: 7.3–296.4). Conclusions: The frequency of antivenom use for copperhead bites did not significantly increase between 2006 and 2016. Administration of antivenom was associated with a large increase in the odds of admission to the hospital, even when controlling for bite severity. Further education regarding the benefits and safety of antivenom may increase its use for copperhead snakebites, but may lead to an increase in hospital admissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-321
Number of pages7
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • emergency medicine
  • toxicology
  • wilderness medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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