Woman bitten by snake in Thailand gets antivenin from the Toronto Zoo
A Malayan pit viper such as this one was responsible for the bite that Shalaba Kalliath received in Thailand. When symptoms re-emerged once she was home in Canada, the Toronto Zoo sprung into action. (Wibowo Djatmiko / Creative Commons)
Alexandra Mae Jones, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, June 25, 2019 7:03PM EDT
The Toronto Zoo says a woman it helped after she was bitten by a snake in Thailand is expected to make a full recovery.
Shalaba Kalliath was bitten by a Malayan pit viper when she was vacationing in Thailand, the zoo said in a news release. Although she was treated for the wound in Thailand, she began experiencing symptoms again once she arrived home in Ontario. She was admitted to the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, and the Ontario Poison Centre immediately notified the Toronto Zoo.
The Toronto Zoo is home to numerous venomous snakes, and maintains its own stock of antivenin for the safety of staff. It is one of only a few Canadian zoos to store antivenin onsite, according to the news release.
Six vials of antivenin were sent to Kitchener at once to aid in Kalliath’s recovery, “due to the time sensitive nature of the situation,” said Dr. Andrew Lentini, the zoo’s senior director of wildlife care and science. Zoo staff then looked for more locations that could provide antivenin specific to a Malayan pit viper bite.
They searched through a database of North American zoos and contacted two locations in the U.S., in Texas and Ohio, as well as another Ontario facility: Indian River Reptile Zoo, which is located just east of Peterborough.
Indian River sent additional vials of antivenin to Kitchener in the hands of provincial police officers, according to a staff member.
In the news release, Kalliath said she was “very grateful” to the Toronto Zoo for the quick delivery of the antivenin and for her care at the Grand River Hospital.
“When unique situations like this arise, the Toronto Zoo’s highly trained and professional staff is committed to providing assistance to help patients receive the best treatment possible,” said Lentini. “We were very pleased to receive an update that Ms. Kalliath is expected to make a full recovery.”