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Biggest ever' antivenom dose saves boy bitten by funnel-web spider in Australia



Author: Craig Adams
Date: Saturday, February 25, 2017

The below article was taken from Sky News Friday 24 February 2017. For those of you who are uncertain of how to treat a suspected funnelweb spider bite, use the same first aid method as you would for a snakebite: apply a compression bandage to the affected limb, immobilise the victim and seek urgent medical attention.


A 10-year-old boy is lucky to be alive after surviving being bitten by one of the world's deadliest spiders.

Matthew Mitchell required what is believed to be the largest dose of antivenom ever administered in Australia - 12 vials in total - after experiencing numerous convulsions.

The youngster from Berkeley Vale in New South Wales was helping his father clear out a shed at their home when he was bitten on a finger by a funnel-web spider which was inside one of his shoes.

"It sort of clawed on to me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn't get it off," he told Australia's Daily Telegraph.

His family rushed him to hospital where he was given the antivenom - an unheard-of amount, according to the Australian Reptile Park, which runs a antivenom milking programme.

"I've never heard of it, it's incredible," the park's general manager Tim Faulkner told the Australian Associated Press on Friday.

"To walk out of hospital a day later with no effects is a testament to the antivenom."

The funnel-web spider is native to Australia and can kill a human in less than 15 minutes.

"It would have been a fatal bite (without antivenom) there's little to no doubt of that," said Mr Faulkner.

"A small child is more vulnerable - but that bite would have killed an adult."

The offending spider was captured and taken to the reptile park, located north of Sydney.

Last month the facility released a video showing people how to collect funnel-web spiders safely.

The park is the only supplier of venom to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, which provides medical professionals with the antivenom to cure snake and funnel-web spider bites.

To keep up the supply of venoms the staff regularly 'milk' more than 300 snakes and 500 spiders that are included in the programme.

Tiger snake bites father and son in their Melbourne home



Author: Craig Adams
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The below article was taken from The Guardian Friday 6 January 2017. Manage snakebite risk around your home by being prepared. Stock appropriate compression bandages and learning the basic principals of snakebite first aid.


Tiger snake bites father and son in their Melbourne home

Matt Horn bitten twice after he found 11-year-old Braeden, who has autism, playing with the reptile.

A Melbourne father and his 11-year-old autistic son have been bitten by a tiger snake that slithered into their suburban home.

Matt Horn was bitten twice as he tried to protect his son, Braeden, who had been bitten while playing with the snake in the hallway of their Diamond Creek home.

Ambulance Victoria confirmed on Friday that paramedics had treated the pair for suspected snake bites on Tuesday before they were taken to the Austin hospital.

A snake catcher, Mark Pelley, was called in to remove the snake. “Both of them got bitten and they got away unscathed because they did the right thing by calling triple-zero and the ambulance attended them straight away,” Pelley said.

“The only problem was the father was trapped in the room and he couldn’t get any treatment from the paramedics until I arrived to remove the snake.”

Pelley said tiger snakes were not normally aggressive and would strike only if people attempted to handle them. “The son had autism and didn’t know what was happening so he handled the snake and it bit him,” he said.

Tiger snakes often entered homes to escape the heat on hot nights, he said.

Australian man bitten by taipan snake dies after six days in hospital



Author: Craig Adams
Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The below article was taken from The Guardian, Tuesday 27 December 2016. The question raised by many of these cases is wether or not snakebite first aid was immediately and correctly applied. The Pressure Bandage + Immobilisation technique has been proven to delay the spread of venom into the system. Snakebite is a medical emergency requiring an immediate response:

  • 1) check for danger
  • 2) commence first aid

Australian man bitten by taipan snake dies after six days in hospital

David Pitt, 77, went into cardiac arrest after highly venomous reptile bit him on the foot in his home in far north Queensland.

An elderly man bitten by a taipan at his home in Queensland has died after spending nearly a week in hospital.

David Pitt, 77, went into cardiac arrest after the highly venomous snake bit him on the foot at his home in Yorkeys Knob, Cairns, on 20 December.

Pitt was attempting to remove the snake which had slithered into his lounge room when he was bitten. He was revived and taken to intensive care at Cairns hospital but died on Boxing Day.

The coastal taipan is Australia’s largest venomous snake, with some adults growing two metres long.

Girl dies from brown snake bite in Walgett, NSW



Author: Craig Adams
Date: Monday, February 15, 2016

The article below appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald on February 15th, 2016. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the victims family and friends.

Author: RACHEL OLDING


A six-year-old girl has died after being bitten by a brown snake in Far North NSW, prompting emergency services to issue a state-wide warning.

The girl was bitten on a property near Walgett about 3pm on Friday.

She was taken to Walgett Hospital, where doctors administered anti-venom, then flown to the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick where she was placed on life support.

After her condition deteriorated significantly, she was transferred back to Walgett Hospital where she died on Saturday.

NSW Ambulance and NSW Police have issued a reminder to people to be wary of snakes in warmer months.

Tips from NSW Ambulance include:

  • If you are bitten by a snake, ensure someone calls triple zero immediately.
  • Until help arrives, if the bite is on a limb, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage but not so tight that it will cut off circulation.
  • If the bite is not on a limb, apply direct and firm pressure to the bite site with your hands (it is also important the patient is kept still).
  • Check items of clothing that have been left outside before wearing them and if you lift something such as a rock or log, lift the object so it's facing away from you.

Numbers of eastern brown snakes have proliferated over the years due to large-scale land clearing, which provides a ready supply of rodents for the snakes to feed on, the Australian Museum says.

They are most commonly found in scrublands, rural areas that have been heavily modified for agriculture and on the suburban outskirts of large towns and cities across eastern Australia.

The brown snake causes more deaths from snake bite than any other species of snake in Australia.

Many bites are caused by people trying to kill the snakes or move them, causing the snake to react viciously.

They typically have small fangs but extremely potent venom that can cause progressive paralysis and uncontrollable bleeding that can spread to the brain.

The initial bite is generally painless and often difficult to detect, the Australian Museum says.

Gingin man dies after freak snake bite



Author: Craig Adams
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Brian Bush is spot on identifying the critical risk factors of brown snake envenomation.

Gingin man dies after freak snake bite

WA Today

Perth Zoo officers have confirmed that the snake that killed a 43-year-old Gingin man was a highly venomous western brown snake.

The snake was originally thought to be a tiger snake, but zoo experts confirmed the species this afternoon. It is the second death attributed to the venomous reptile in two years.

Police spokeswoman Susan Usher said the man was bitten on the toe around 8.30pm on Friday night.

"He was at his home when he phoned someone to say he'd been bitten by a snake and was then taken to hospital," Ms Usher said. He later died in hospital.

Perth Zoo spokeswoman Debbie Read said health authorities brought the 50 centimetre snake to the zoo yesterday and keepers identifed it as a western brown today.

"The keepers were very surprised that the snake was able to inject a lethal amount because its fangs were so small," Ms Read said.

"They are a highly venomous species and it was dead when it was brought here."

Snake handler Brian Bush said the last snake-related death in WA was in January 2009 when a 60-year-old Carnarvon woman was bitten, also by a western brown snake.

"The smallest western brown to kill someone was an 18 centimetre snake that bit a 27-year-old pregnant woman in 1982," Mr Bush said.

He said 11 people had died in WA after being bitten by a snake since 1986.

Health Department spokeswoman Crystal Fairbairn said 77 people had so far been treated for snake bites in WA this year.

Information collected by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital's poisons information centre showed about 100 snake bites were recorded in the state each year, but deaths were rare.

"There have been no recorded inpatient deaths from snake bite over the past 10 years in WA," spokeswoman Clare Chamberlain said.

"On average, there are two deaths attributed to snake bites per year in Australia."

Mr Bush said western brown snake bites were especially dangerous because the victim often didn't feel any symptoms until it was too late.

"With a brown snake you can show no symptoms at all until there's an acute drop in blood pressure and you pass out and a lot of people experience cardiac arrest," he said.

"The western brown is involved in most of our fatalities. They have this predilection to enter buildings to look for mice."

The Red Cross has urged people to be wary of snakes as the weather heats up, with the elderly, children and sick people most at risk.

Those bitten could suffer from a number of symptoms including nausea and vomiting, ringing ears, blurred vision, paralysis and cardiac arrest.

Mr Bush said snake bite symptoms could appear fairly rapidly and that anyone bitten should use bandages or clothing to wrap the affected area.

"I understand this man was bitten on the toe and he should have bandaged that right up the foot and up to his leg," Mr Bush said.

"That closes the spaces in the tissue and traps the venom to stop it travelling through the body."

Mr Bush said while anti-venom stocks were sufficient in southern WA, regional hospitals often had limited supplies.

"Our tiger snake anti-venom works pretty good but the brown snake one isn't the best because it's made from snakes from the eastern states," he said.

"It can take up to 20 plus ampoules of anti-venom (to treat western brown snake bites)."

Extract taken from WA Today. Read the enire article here.

Image Courtesy: Jannico Kelk


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