Developments of Antivenoms in Southern Africa
Snake AntivenomAntivenom production began at the South African Institute of Medical Research (now known as NHLS- National Health Laboratory Service) as early as 1928. The initial antivenoms produced were limited to Cape Cobra & Puff Adder, and in 1938 the venom from the Gaboon Adder was incorporated into the immunization schedule.
In 1941 this polyvalent range was expanded to incorporate the venom from the Rinkhals. During the 1950’s & 1960’s several Monovalent & trivalent antivenoms to the Southern African mambas were developed (Black, Green & Jamesons Mamba), and by 1971 the original polyvalent antivenom was extended to incorporate these valencies.
Other venoms later incorporated into the immunization schedule in the 1970s were the Snouted cobra, (previously known as Egyptian Cobra), Forest cobra & the Mozambican Spitting cobra resulting in the 10 valencies making up the current polyvalent, which has remained unchanged to date.
The Monovalent Boomslang antivenom was developed during the 1940s.
Monovalent antivenom specific against the saw scaled viper (Echis ocellatus / pyramidum) became available in 1959 after a request from American missionaries in Nigeria.