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

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
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
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?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
ASTEROID'S SHOCK DINO-KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.