Summer signals a stirring of venomous snakes and spiders

Published: 6 Dec 2021

As NSW welcomes the warmer weather, residents must be alert that they’ll be sharing the great outdoors with some of world’s most venomous creatures.

A person walking toward an eastern brown snake moving through grass.

It is this time of year that people are most likely to be bitten by snakes and spiders such as the eastern brown snake and the funnel web spider.

While hospitals around NSW have plenty of antivenom available to treat bites on unsuspecting victims, it’s still 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.

NSW Health and the Poisons Information Centre urges people to remember the following advice if they get bitten:
For snake bites: seek immediate medical attention, even for a suspected bite. If someone has collapsed following a snake bite start CPR immediately, this can be lifesaving. If someone is bitten you should keep them 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. 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.
For spider bites: most spider bites are harmless. However, if a person has been bitten by a big black spider or funnel web, it is a medical emergency. If someone is bitten you should keep them still, call an ambulance and apply a pressure immobilisation bandage, with a further bandage to the entire limb. A bite from a funnel web can cause severe pain, sweating, vomiting, difficulty breathing and muscle twitching. A redback spider bite may result in pain and redness, but it is not considered life-threatening so does not require bandaging.

"The most important thing to know in a situation like this is how to perform the correct first aid. This can make a significant difference to treatment and outcomes,” says Genevieve Adamo, Senior Poisons Specialist at the Poisons Information Centre. 

Find out more about managing snake and spider bites from the Poisons Information Centre

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