NEWS RELEASE

September 18, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center (NMPDIC) has received a three-year $375,000 Health Resources and Services Administration grant in collaboration with poison centers in Arizona, Nebraska, Maryland and San Diego, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and a number of additional venomous snake and snakebite experts, to create a national strategic, exotic (non-native species) antivenom system.

The grant will also fund the development of antivenom use and clinical registries; exotic snakebite management reviews; and enhancements to the existing online Antivenom Index, a tool used by zoos and poison centers to locate and track antivenoms.

Dr. Steven Seifert, NMPDIC medical director, is the principal investigator for the project.

"Approximately 50 exotic envenomations occur yearly in the U.S., most often involving private collectors and their families," said Seifert. "A national system of exotic antivenoms, strategically selected and geographically distributed, will allow practitioners and poison centers to more rapidly and more specifically manage these unfamiliar and clinically challenging cases. The case-fatality rate for these envenomations is significantly higher than native envenomations. This project will help to overcome some current barriers to locating and obtaining appropriate antivenoms in a timely manner and will assist practitioners in providing care."

Snake envenomation has been one of Seifert’s primary areas of practice and research, and the NMPDIC has a long history of involvement in the management of envenomations and in antivenom research.

The NMPDIC is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of poisonings in New Mexico, including snakebites and other evenomations in New Mexico. The center is available to the public and health care professionals 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Call the NMPDIC when you need poison help, at 1-800-222-1222.