poisoning. A supply of snakes was obtained from Australia, experiments were conducted for the purpose of investigating the effects of their bite, as compared with the bite of the cobra, and the influence of the intravenous injection of ammonia in procuring recovery from these effects. A full report of the investigations of the commission has been submitted to Government, and we are enabled to present our readers with a short snake


summary of the conclusions arrived at.

regarding the effects

of agents



to be

all observations

remedial, it is of carefully the exact

the utmost consequence to determine most course and phenomena of the diseased condition

endeavoured to amend. lost







This very essential






the circumstance that

the corpora vilia of all their

their conclusions

which it is




valuable. The quantitj of poison shed by


full-grown cobra was found to be thirteen grains, on evaporation from four to five grains of dried material. It was ascertained that a dog weighing 301bs. is poisoned in fifty minutes by the effective bite of a cobra. Sometimes the interval is even shorter than this, and the average period which elapsed between the bite and cessation of respiration in 12 experiments was found to be 42 minutes. By reducing the quantity of the poison it was found that the interval was prolonged until the subcutaneous injection of -foth of a grain was reached, when the animal, though much affected by it, recovered. This is shown to be true of daboia as well as cobra poison. A small dog weighing 171bs. succumbed, however, in 31 hours 25 minutes to the -iVth of a grain. As a general rule, it was found that the effect of the poison was inversely proportionate to the weight of the dog, a small animal succumbing more rapidly than a large. From these experiments the commission conclude that small doses of the poison may produce marked depression of the cerebro-spinal system, and very alarming symptoms without causing death, and they assert that " these experiments will explain many of the favorable results obtained from reputed antidotes." The influence of artificial respiration was very systematically and carefully tested in dogs subjected to different doses of the poison. The mode in which the process was applied is described, and it appears to have been appropriate and effective. The practice was resorted to when death was evidently impending, that is, after respiration had ceased and while the heart was still beating, experience having shown that the rhythmic action of the heart continues an

which furnished


importance with which the great annual Quite apart mortality from snake-bites in India invests this subject, and the interest attaching to it physiologically, this journal has special reason to watch the question and record its progress, inasmuch as its pages constituted the medium through which the admirable series of experiments conducted by Dr. Fayrer before his departure from India was first given to the public. We have, through the authors' courtesy, been put in possession of some additional experiments bearing more particularly on the physiological action of the venom conducted by Drs. Fayrer and Lauder Brunton in London. These have been published in the proceedings of the Royal Society j but, as these proceedings are not generally available in India, we have determined to place the records of the experiments and the conclusions drawn Not long ago, at Dr. therefrom before our readers in detail. Fayrer's suggestion, a commission was appointed in India for the purpose of investigating the influence of artificial respiration as a means of treating animals effectively bitten by snakes. The commission was composed of Surgeon-Major J. Ewart, M.D., president, and Surgeon S. C. Mackenzie, M.D., and Vincent Richards, Esq., members. The labors of the commission were at first confined to the point just indicated, but after disposing of it, other questions engaged their attention, more particulary the effect of the intravenous-injection of ammonia aa a remedy for from the


for about three or

four minutes after the absolve cessation of

respiration." In dogs subjected to a full cobra bite life ^aS prolonged from 42 minutes to 11 hours and 23 minutes, or for a period of 10 hours and 41 minutes; no recovery took place. Organic life was sustained, and the processes of excretion went there was no positive evidence to show that the poison on, but had ever lost its lethal hold on the cerebro-spinal ganglia. The poison appears, the commission remark, first to affect the cord, then the medulla and cerebral ganglia, then the braW? and finally the sympathetic. When about 7 grains of cobra "

injected subcutaneously life was prolonged froD1 3 1 hour and 10 minutes to 18 hours and 54 minutes, or for hour 1 of 17 hours and 44 when one

virus were




and minutes, or for 11 hours these experiments were small),

and 32 minutes to 13 hours and 12 40 minutes

(the dogs used for grain, from 2 hours and 45 minutes, or for 26 hour3 and

when half and 3


minutes to 29 hours




November 2, 1874.] ?ne


experiment in which



Was ?52 e





used life

in no case was the

inevitably fatal issue averted. auxiliary means, such as ammonia, morphia, strychnia, transfusion, &c., were combined with artificial respiration, but *'thout avail. A number of drugs were experimented upon


opium, opium, epsom salts, strychnia, baptls'n> iridin, morphia, liquor ursenicalis, leptandrin, nicotin, annabis Indica, bichloride of mercury, sulphuric, nitric, muriatlc, acetic, and phosphoric acids, and chloral hydrate?and none them were found to "possess the power of extending or pre^lng life." 'I he effect of the intravenous injection of ammonia as Dla^e the subject of special trials, and it wa3 found to hasten t'Jer than postpone or avert death. This remedy was first recomL'iided by Fontana at the close of the eighteenth century, and it ^ latterly been much vaunted by Professor Ilalford, of Melan,i


ne. The commission criticise Dr. Halford's cases, and demou8trate their very inconclusive character. Jn fourteen out of of them it does not appear to have been determined a the bite was due to a poisonous snake. It was found by

^enty-one that Australian ^xPeriment ^?Pl?cephalus curtusj



(Pseudechisporphyriacus a grain and a half of or about shed by the cobra. amount of the one-eighth goes far to the more frequent recoveries from the explain ^ CS *ke former. The poison was, moreover, found not to be 8() Vlrulent and rapid as that of the cobra. The intravenous shed






of ammonia was here also found to render death



The conclusions arrived at

by the



sion on tK; 3 important subject are as follows :? ' j "^e result of our experiments on dogs goes to show ^ at the intravenous injection of ammonia possesses no antidotal ?



Medial power. lhat the intravenous injection of ammonia, probably by Pr?tnoting the absorption of the poison, rather expedites than ards the tendency to death: That the Indian cobra is from six to thirteen times more 'sonoua t&an the snakes of Australia. That a given quantity of the cobra poison is more power ?

^ ^ and more

rapidly mortal

than the same


of Austra-

snake poison.


largo proportion of the bites


alian snakes with which



of the two kinds of



under the

conditions altogether ineffective. 6- That the facts alluded to in 3, 4, and 5 are sufficient to acc?unt for the unmerited recognition of the intravenous use of a^nionia as an antidote or a mode of treatment in poisoning ^Ustralian snakes." ?r?"ese e*tended 3r'

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