26 September 2023

Summer hot pot to brew snakes and spiders

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NSW Health is warning people to be on the lookout for slithery snakes and eight-legged critters as the daily weather heats up.

According to figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, people in NSW are among those most likely to be bitten by snakes and spiders when out and about.

Senior Poisons Specialist at the Poisons Information Centre, Genevieve Adamo said the State had some of the most venomous critters in the world, from the brown snake to the funnel web spider “but thankfully, plenty of antivenom is available to treat any bites”.

“While bites from these types of creatures are rare, it’s important to know what to do and act quickly, as it could just save your life or the life of a friend or loved one,” Ms Adamo said.

She said with the recent mouse plague and the wet and humid weather, wildlife experts had predicted an increase in numbers of both venomous snakes and spiders.

“Snake season usually peaks in late December and January, but we have already seen an increase in snake bites from this time last year,” Ms Adamo said.

“The most important thing to know in a situation like this is how to perform the correct first aid,” she said.

“This can make a significant difference to treatment and outcomes.”

Ms Adamo said for snake bites, people should seek immediate medical attention, even for a suspected bite, and start CPR immediately if someone collapsed from a snake bite.

The Senior Poisons Specialist said anyone who was bitten should keep still, call an ambulance and apply a pressure immobilisation bandage.

“Tight tourniquets should not be applied, and the bite site should not be washed, cut or sucked,” she said.

“Symptoms from a venomous bite can include nausea, vomiting and a headache, however, first aid should be applied regardless of whether these symptoms are present.”

Ms Adamo said most spider bites were harmless, however, if a person was bitten by a redback spider or funnel web it was a medical emergency and people should follow the same precautions as they would for a snake bite.

She said a bite from a funnel web could cause severe pain, sweating, vomiting, difficulty breathing and muscle twitching and a redback spider bite may result in pain and redness, but it was not considered life threatening so did not require bandaging.

Further information on what to do in the case of a snake or spider bite can be accessed at this PS News link.

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