WA worst for fa­tal bites, but don’t blame spi­ders

Pilbara News - - News - Cathy O'Leary

WA is a hotspot for ven­omous nas­ties, record­ing the most deaths from al­ler­gic re­ac­tions to in­sect bites, ac­cord­ing to an Aus­tralian-first study.

An anal­y­sis of hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions for bites and stings in 13 years showed that WA had the most deaths from ana­phy­lac­tic shock caused by bites from in­sects such as bees.

WA recorded nine of the 34 deaths from 2000 to 2013, fol­lowed by South Aus­tralia with eight fa­tal­i­ties.

The Univer­sity of Mel­bourne study of al­most 42,000 hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions caused by ven­omous crea­tures found that bees and other in­sects posed a ma­jor health threat.

Bees and wasps were re­spon­si­ble for 33 per cent of ad­mis­sions, fol­lowed by spi­der bites with 30 per cent of cases and snake bites with 15 per cent.

De­spite the fear­ful rep­u­ta­tion of red-back spi­ders, no deaths from spi­der bites were recorded in the 13 years, while 27 peo­ple died from snake bites. Bees and wasps killed 27 peo­ple, tick bites caused three deaths, and ant bites an­other two. Box jel­ly­fish killed three peo­ple.

WA and SA were the hotspots for stings and bites, most of which oc­curred be­tween April and Oc­to­ber.

Dr Ronelle Wel­ton, of the Aus­tralian Venom Unit, said sur­pris­ingly more than half of the deaths hap­pened at home.

Two-thirds were in ma­jor cities and inner-re­gional ar­eas where health care was read­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

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