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. Especially since many of these spiders are poisonous and carry venoms that cause sickness or even death. Let’s see some statistics below and find out if spiders are one of the reasons for people’s deaths in Perth. It 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 in Perth. These spider bite incidents have not led to death since antivenoms have been available. There is also an antivenom for funnel-web spider bites which is another poisonous species found 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‘s 2020 statistics, the latest report available.
The Redback Spider
Redback spiders, scientifically called Latrodectus hasselti, belong to the Family Theridiidae. This family of spiders is found in Perth, in other parts of Australia, and other countries.
Redback spiders carry 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:
- Ask the person who got bitten by a redback spider to stay calm.
- Apply ice packs.
- 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 funnel-web spiders are not common in Perth. However, since they carry 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.
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:
- Calling 000 for emergency help.
- Immediately respond to it with first aid such as applying a pressure immobilization bandage.
- 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.
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.