Feeds

Antidote for poisonous Aussie Red-Back Spider venom DOESN'T WORK

Australia: The holiday destination where if the sharks don't get you, the scientists will

The next step in data security

Australia's second-most feared spider, the Red-Back (a member of same family that includes America's Black Widow), is probably less venomous than we think, considering that new research shows the anti-venom Australia has used for decades doesn't do anything.

Of course, since nobody's actually died of a Red-Back spider bite in decades (since, in fact, the anti-venom was introduced in 1956), this suggests that the infamous backside-biter is not as toxic as was long believed.

In what looks like a classic confusion between correlation and causation, it seems to El Reg that the availability of an anti-venom brought bite sufferers to hospital, and hospital treatment kept them alive.

The discovery is down to Geoff Isbister, a toxicologist at Newcastle's Calvary Mater Hospital, who presented his research to a conference in Dubai.

Ibister told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation “If [the anti-venom] works, it only has a very small effect and there's risks with using anti-venom and our assessment really is that the limited benefit or potentially no benefit of anti-venom isn't worth the risks of using a treatment.”

Red Back Spider

The Red-Back Spider: bitey but not so deadly

Image: Toby Hudson under the CC 3.0 license

His work was based on analysing 224 patients in hospitals around Australia, half of which received the anti-venom along with pain relief, the other half receiving just the analgesia.

“We showed that it didn't actually matter whether you got the anti-venom they didn't have improved response to the pain or improved treatment of their systemic effects with anti-venom,” he told Auntie.

With as many as four percent of patients showing allergic reactions to the anti-venom, Ibister says he'll stop using the product on his patients, and wait until research produces a better product.

And while the bite is painful, tourists and locals alike can strike down one of the terrors of Australia's fauna. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Stray positrons caught on ISS hint at DARK MATTER source
Landlubber scope-gazers squint to horizons and see anti-electron count surge
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.