Toronto zoo saves woman bitten by venomous snake in Thailand

A Canadian zoo has been credited for saving a woman who was bitten by a Malayan pit viper — a venomous snake that's found primarily in Southeast Asia — while she was vacationing in Thailand.

Though the snake bite victim, identified as Shalaba Kalliath, received treatment in Thailand following the bite, she experienced “re-emerging symptoms” following her return to Ontario. As a result, she was admitted to the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, a city in the Canadian Province.

Shortly after, on June 7, the Toronto Zoo said in a news release it was contacted by the Ontario Poison Center. The facility was seeking an antivenom to administer to Kalliath.

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“Snake antivenom is imported through Health Canada’s Special Access Program for non-marketed drugs for the treatment of serious or life-threatening conditions and is stocked at the Toronto Zoo primarily to ensure the health and safety of staff,” the zoo explained in the statement. Per UPI, the zoo is home to several species of venomous snakes.

The woman was bitten by a Malayan pit viper.

The woman was bitten by a Malayan pit viper. (iStock)

The zoo said six vials of antivenom were then sent to the Grand River Hospital to “ensure the patient received the quickest treatment possible as timely access to the most appropriate antivenom is essential for recovery.”

Kalliath received the antivenom and is now expected to make a full recovery, the Toronto Zoo’s Senior Director of Wildlife Care and Science Andrew Lentini said in a statement.

“I am very grateful to the Toronto Zoo for the quick delivery of the antivenom and for the great care I received at the Grand River Hospital,” Kalliath added.

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A Malayan pit viper, scientifically known as Calloselasma rhodostoma, is a “thick-bodied snake” with a “very short and narrow tail distinct from the body,” according to The University of Adelaide in Australia. These reptiles are primarily nocturnal and are found in “lowland forest, hillside slopes and cultivated regions,” per the university.

Though these snakes are not aggressive, they will strike if disturbed. Following a bite from a Mayalan pit viper, “severe envenomation [is] possible” and is  “potentially lethal,” according to the university. Snakebite envenoming, according to the World Health Organization, “is a potentially life-threatening disease that typically results from the injection of a mixture of different toxins [venom] following the bite of a venomous snake.”

In addition to Thailand, these venomous serpents are also found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam.