Australia houses some of the most venomous creatures in the world. Snakes, spiders, jellyfish and molluscs, such as the blue ringed octopus and cone snail, can all inflict a sting or bite that may cause illness or death.

This is a brief guide of what should be done if you, a family member of friend get bitten or stung.

In all instances of bites and stings it is essential that you

  • keep the victim calm
  • Keep the victim rested
  • Reassure the victim that help is on its way

Snakes

  • Apply a broad pressure bandage firmly to the limb, particularly over the bite site, and immobilise with a splint
  • APPLY firm direct pressure on the bite site if possible
  • Get the victim to a hospital or medical centre – preferably by an ambulance that has resuscitation and antivenom for snakebites available
  • Keep the bitten person still
  • Bring transport to them rather than move them
  • DO NOT cut the bite area
  • DO NOT use a tourniquet.
  • DO NOT wash or suck the bite. Traces of venom are needed for identification purposes
  • DO NOT remove the bandage
  • DO NOT apply firm pressure to the head or neck

Spiders

Funnel Web

  • Apply a broad pressure bandage to the limb immediately, particularly over the bite site
  • Immobilise the limb
  • Get the victim to a hospital or medical centre
  • DO NOT remove the bandage — this will result in spread of the venom through the system.

Red Back Spider

  • Apply an ice pack to reduce the pain
  • Get the victim to a hospital or medical centre

Box jellyfish or sea wasp

  • Pour vinegar over any attached tentacles
  • Do not use mentholated spirits or alcohol
  • Do not use pressure bandages
  • Try to keep the victim still
  • Antivenom is available

Blue bottle octopus

  • Remove the tentacles, preferably with forceps.
  • DO NOT use vinegar
  • Painkillers may be required.
  • Rinse the sting area with sea water
  • Place the stung area in hot water for 20 minutes
  • Ice packs can also be used to relieve pain

Stonefish and other stinging fish

  • Soak the affected area in hot water
  • Do not bandage or restrict movement of the toxin
  • Hospital treatment may be needed for the relief of pain
  • Antivenom is available

Blue ringed octopus

  • The person bitten will feel numb around the mouth, tongue, face and neck and will feel tight in the chest and may have difficulty breathing.
  • Respiratory failure occurs eventually which leads to death
  • The victim is aware, but unable to move or respond
  • Pressure immobilisation, using a broad pressure bandage over the site is recommended.
  • Medical help is needed as fast as possible, and the person should be transported to the nearest hospital, preferably in an ambulance.
  • Prolonged artificial respiration may be required
  • There is no antivenom available.

Cone shell/snail

  • Pressure immobilisation using a broad pressure bandage to the limb
  • Artificial respiration may be required.
  • There is no antivenom available

Paralysis tick

  • Remove the tick
  • Do not squeeze or cut the tick
  • Do not leave its head in the skin
  • Clean the area with antiseptic or soapy water
  • Do not use mthylated spirits or other chemicals
  • use the pressure immobilisation technique if condition worsens