Cobra or Banakon sightings have increased in Cebu since December 2023. This has caused alarm for locals because of the danger it poses to their safety.
Dr. Beethoven Bongon, a toxicologist at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) reassured that there is an antivenom for cobra bites as long as the victim bitten was allowed to receive the shot.
He also added that the antivenom available at the VSMMC Poison Control Center is polyvalent. This means that the antivenom is effective for three types of cobra species: the King Cobra, the Philippine Cobra, and the Samar Cobra.
This is different from the monovalent antivenom, Purified Cobra Antivenin (Pcav) only effective against Philippine Cobra. And this can only be obtained from the health research facility Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila.
In an interview with Sunstar 7, Ruff Vincent Valdevieso, coordinator of the national immunization program at the Department of Health (DOH) 7 that Pcav is limited and not commercially available. The said antivenom is not available in the Region because it is not part of the priority list.
Bongon also emphasized that not all victims need antivenom because not all snake bites are venomous. In the snake bite incidents in Region 7—especially in Cebu, snake bite cases involve 90% non-venomous snakes. This means that the usage of the polyvalent antivenom rarely occurred.
Bongon advised that when an individual is bitten by a snake, the victim should be brought to the nearest local health center. Once the kind of snake has been determined—especially if it is venomous- health experts will coordinate with the Poison Control Center to assess the situation and determine whether antivenom is truly necessary.