Australian spider bite boy saved by massive anti-venom dose

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 poisonous 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 dose of anti-venom is believed to be three larger more than any other survivor 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 with males - five times more venous than their female counterparts - being particularly aggressive.

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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