Being bitten by a deadly venomous snake ten years ago was a llife-changing event for Sanath Weeraratne, and good news for Sri Lanka’s nature-loving tourists and vsitors.

Sanath survived, thanks to quick thinking by two friends who dentified the snake, applied first aid and rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he was successfully treated.

And it was that brush with death which led Sanath to his job as a caretaker at Sri Lanka’s first national serpentarium, where he looks after kraits, cobras and vipers, our three most deadly snake species.

The serpentarium is operated by the US-based Animal Venom Research International (AVRI), with executive director Roy Malleappah, a Sri Lankan-born herpetological field-operations specialist.

After years of research, his team has perfected techniques to extract and process venom from the snakes, which is used to manufacture the anti-venum that saved caretaker Sanath’s life.

The story is told on the Al Jazeera website, which reports that “by making its own anti-venom, Sri Lanka could boost its technology capacity and become a model exporter for others”.

It also means a crucial safety net for anyone unlucky enough to be bitten by one of these venomous snakes.

The anti-venom was developed with the Instituto Clodomiro Picado (ICP) in Costa Rica, while the University of Peradeniya, partly funded by the National Research Council of Sri Lanka, hosts the clinical trials.

As a result, for the first time Sri Lanka has a polyspecific anti-venom covering the hump-nosed pit viper, the most common cause of snakebite toxicity and death.

Says AVRI: “With Sri Lanka as the starting point, AVRI’s objective is to reach into areas of the world suffering from the worst morbidity and mortality rates due to animal envenomations. The technology exists to improve pharmacotherapies, treatment protocols and quality of care within these regions.”

Read the full story here.

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