Australia

Australian spider bite boy saved by massive anti-venom dose

A picture of Big Boy, a 10cm funnel web found in Australia Image copyright Australian Reptile Park
Image caption Funnel-webs are among the most dangerous spiders in the world

A 10-year-old Australian boy has survived being bitten by one of the world's most venomous spiders after being treated with 12 vials of anti-venom, reports say.

It is thought to be one of the largest doses of anti-venom ever administered in Australia.

Matthew Mitchell was bitten on his finger by a funnel-web spider while helping his father clear out a shed.

He suffered multiple seizures, dilated eyes and began frothing at the mouth.

"It sort of clawed onto me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn't get it off," he told Friday's Australian Daily Telegraph.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption February and March are peak breeding times for funnel-webs

Matthew's family used his shirt as a tourniquet to curtail the spread of the venom as he was rushed to hospital.

The boy received anti-venom at the hospital, believed to be the highest dose given to a bite victim in living memory, the Telegraph said.

The spider has been captured and taken to the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney, where it is now being used in a venom-milking programme.

The park's general manager Tim Faulkner said Matthew was "as lucky as they get".

February and March are the peak breeding season for many funnel-web species.

Find out more about spiders’ impressive skills - from BBC iWonder

The small and deadly funnel-web spider

  • Named after their irregularly-shaped webs, funnel-web spiders live in moist habitats - such as under logs or shrubbery - or rotting parts of trees
  • There are 40 species, not all of which are dangerous
  • The Sydney Funnel-web Spider, is probably responsible for most recorded deaths and the most serious bites
  • They sometimes fall into swimming pools, where they can live up to 30 hours under water
  • Their venom can lead to heart collapse, affect the nervous system and intestines, and cause difficulty in breathing
  • There have been 13 recorded deaths from funnel-web spider bites in Australia - nobody has died since an anti-venom programme began
  • Most species live in wet forest regions of the east coast and highlands of Australia, from Tasmania to north Queensland

Sources: Australian Museum, US National Library of Medicine

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