What is serum sickness?

Serum sickness is, thank goodness, a less and less frequent complication of antivenom treatment, now that manufacturers are switching over to safer designs for their products. In the Bad Old Days, close to 85% of our snakebitten patients in Arizona used to come back to their doctors, 7-10 days after treatment, complaining of the itchiest rash of their lives. They had hives, and sometimes really gross-looking hemorrhagic rashes on their legs, plus aches and pains of their joints and muscles, dehydration, fever, and a general feeling of misery that sometimes meant going back into the hospital because of the side effects! Nowadays we still see the occasional rash a week after antivenom treatment, but we almost never have to treat full-blown serum sickness when the patient has received one of the modern products.