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

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.