CPR First Aid

How many People in Perth Die from Spider Bites Per Year?

How many People in Perth Die from Spider Bites per year

How many people in Perth die from spider bites per year? This is a question that many people are asking, as spider populations continue to grow. This is especially the case since many of these arachnids are poisonous and carry venoms that cause sickness or even death. Add the fact that Australian spiders are some of the most dangerous spiders in the world, and there really is a cause for concern.

Let’s see some statistics below and find out if spiders are one of the reasons for recorded deaths and fatalities all across Australia. While medical attention may be necessary for venomous spiders, it is possible to do something immediately for local pain and other things. One must Deaths may be avoided with antivenom wherein a first aid treatment may be done while it is not yet administered.

Bites from Poisonous Spiders

World Nomad states that the first spider bite death recorded in Australia since 1981 was in 2016. In addition, around 2,000 people are bitten every year by redback spiders, a species of poisonous spider common all over Australia. These spider bite incidents have not led to death since antivenoms have been available.

There is also an antivenom for funnel-web spider bites, the deadliest spider in the country. Spider bites are not considered a notifiable medical emergency, so there are no available Perth-wide statistics. However, it is not on the list of common causes of death in the country as per the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2020 statistics, the latest report available.

First spider bite death in Australia since 1981 noted by World Nomad. Around 2,000 bitten yearly by redbacks, yet antivenoms prevent fatalities.

The Redback Spider

Redback spiders, scientifically called Latrodectus hasselti, belong to the Family Theridiidae. This spider species is found in Perth and other parts of Australia. From Sydney to Melbourne, Queensland, and New South Wales, the redback can be found. It is rare in Tasmania due to the cold. It can also be found in other countries such as New Zealand.

"Redback spider (Latrodectus hasselti), found across Australia."

Venom

The redback bite carries neurotoxin (alpha-latrotoxin) venom according to BioMed Central Ltd. Once it is released when a redback spider bites, it depolarizes neurons by exerting toxic effects on the vertebrate central nervous system. This is done by increasing [Ca2+] I and stimulating the uncontrolled exocytosis of neurotransmitters from nerve terminals, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Effects of a Redback Spider Bite

Western Australian Museum lists the following possible effects of a redback spider bite:

  • Five minutes after the redback spider bite, there may be intense localised pain. This is usually accompanied by swelling and sweating.
  • After about half an hour, a feeling of pain and swelling throughout the body may be felt.
  • After an hour, there may be additional symptoms that will occur. It includes headache, nausea, vomiting, and profuse sweating.

Since redback spider bites may cause death, it is important to treat them with utmost caution. Providing first aid is recommended while seeking emergency help who may administer an antivenom.

First Aid for a Redback Spider Bite

The following first aid practices may be followed to treat redback spider bites:

  1. Ask the person who got bitten by a redback spider to stay calm.
  2. Apply ice packs.
  3. Call 000 for emergency help who may administer the antivenom if symptoms are severe.

Performing other types of first aid treatments like using a tourniquet, excising, or incising the bite is discouraged. All of which are appropriate only for other emergencies which must be performed correctly for proper first aid. Doing so may be possible especially if enrollment in a first aid course in 123C Colin St West Perth 6005 is done where skills and knowledge for proper emergency response are taught.

Antivenom for a Redback Spider Bite

Aside from available first aid management for a redback spider bite, there is also an antivenom. In a study by The Medical Journal of Australia, one among six patients with a redback spider bite experienced no pain at all for 24 hours after being treated with antivenom. Other patients who received more than one dose of the antivenom experienced side effects and recovered.

Identification of a Female Redback Spider

Identifying a female redback spider may be done by the distinctions below:

  • Brownish or blackish.
  • A longitudinal stripe (sometimes broken) on the upper abdomen that is red to orange in colour.
  • An “hourglass” shaped red/orange spot on the underside of the abdomen.

The size of their bodies is almost the same as that of a large pea and they have slender legs.

Identification of a Male Redback Spider

Male redback spiders have the following physical identifications:

  • Light brown.
  • Additional white markings on the upper side of the abdomen.
  • A pale hourglass marking on the underside.

The red markings in male redback spiders are also less distinct compared to females.

The Need for Identifying a Female Redback Spider from the Male One

Descriptions of a female and male redback spider have been outlined separately above. It has been done since only the female redback spiders carry the venom. They are responsible for most envenomations as stated by Medscape.

The Funnel-Web Spider

The poisonous Sydney funnel-web spiders, scientifically identified as atrax robustus, is another spider found all over Australia. Since they carry fatal venoms that may be injected through their bites, it may be helpful to still know about them, especially if you are located in other areas where they are prominent such as NSW.

Deadly Sydney funnel-web spiders (Atrax robustus), found across Australia, pose risks via bites. Be aware, especially in NSW.

Venom

A funnel-web spider bite may release the toxin Robustoxin (d-Atracotoxin-Ar1). It is under the protein class, which is a low-molecular-weight neurotoxic polypeptide, according to the Toxin and Toxin Target Database (T3DB). It is in a liquid state and contains different compound types. Its route of exposure is through injection (sting/bite).

Effects of a Funnel-Web Spider Bite

The following circumstances may happen if a funnel-web spider bites you and injects its venom:

  • Progressive hypotension.
  • Raised intracranial pressure resulting from cerebral oedema.

Death from a funnel-web spider bite may result from any of the above effects.

First Aid for a Funnel-Web Spider Bite

The dangerous health effects of a funnel-web spider bite may be prevented by:

  1. Calling 000 for emergency help.
  2. Immediately respond to it with first aid such as applying a pressure immobilization bandage.
  3. Treatment using anti-venom by a doctor.

Step 2 in the mentioned first aid management for a funnel-web spider bite only slows down the movement of the venom. The mainstay of the treatment is anti-venom.

Antivenom for a Funnel-Web Spider Bite

Fortunately, the antivenom for a funnel-web spider bite is distributed in Australia according to NPS Medicine Wise. It contains an active ingredient that is injected to neutralise the effect of the funnel-web spider’s venom. It is in a vial that is in the form of a freeze-dried powder. Its contents are dissolved in sterile water before use. Once done, the solution becomes colourless and its clearness may range from clear to slightly milky. It may be injected by a certified first aider who has enrolled in a first aid course in 123C Colin St West Perth 6005 or by other medical professionals.

Identification of a Male and Female Funnel-Web Spider

Funnel-web spiders in both sexes have the following physical descriptions:

  • Black to brown body colour.
  • The hard carapace covering the front part of the body is always sparsely-haired and glossy.
  •  The lateral pair of spinning organs are longer and are found at the end of the abdomen.

However, male funnel-web spiders are built more lightly than females.

The Need for Identifying a Male Funnel-Web Spider from the Female One

According to the Australian Museum, the poisonous chemical found in a male funnel-web spider is not present in a female one. For this reason, it may be important to differentiate a male from a female funnel-web spider by comparing their sizes.

Other Dangerous Spiders and Insects

There are so many spider species in the world that it is important to verify which ones are dangerous or not. In America for instance, people can find the harmless daddy-long-legs as well as the lethal black widow. South America and Australia have the recluse.

South Australia is home to the trapdoor spider, wolf spider, white-tailed spider, and the huntsman spider. Eastern Australia has the mouse spider, black house spiders, and more.

While not all of these spiders are lethal, many are. Coming into contact with any venomous spider, as well as dangerous insects like scorpions or wasps, this may warrant a call to pest control. Apart from that, make sure you can identify dangerous spiders in your area. Moreover, ensure that you know what to do if you are bitten or stung.

Conclusion

Fortunately, there has been no recorded person in Perth who died from a spider bite. Since there have been available anti-venoms for poisonous spiders found in Perth and other areas. These are the redback spiders and the funnel-web spiders. Only certain sex of these spiders produces venom so it may be helpful to be able to identify them. In addition, first aid treatment such as applying ice packs may be done to slow down the movement of the venom. Doing the appropriate first aid response to spider bites and other emergencies may be learned by enrolling in a first aid course in Perth.

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