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'Record' antivenom saves boy bitten by funnel-web

A 10-year-old boy is lucky to be alive after surviving being bitten by one of the world’s deadliest spiders.

Matthew Mitchell required what is believed to be the largest dose of antivenom ever administered in Australia – 12 vials in total – after experiencing numerous convulsions.

The youngster from Berkeley Vale in New South Wales was helping his father clear out a shed at their home when he was bitten on a finger by a funnel-web spider which was inside one of his shoes.


The spider that bit him was hiding in Matthew's shoe. Pic: The Daily Telegraph/Peter Clark
Image Caption:
The spider that bit him was hiding in Matthew’s shoe. Pic: The Daily Telegraph/Peter Clark

“It sort of clawed on to me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn’t get it off,” he told Australia’s Daily Telegraph.

His family rushed him to hospital where he was given the antivenom – an unheard-of amount, according to the Australian Reptile Park, which runs a antivenom milking programme.

“I’ve never heard of it, it’s incredible,” the park’s general manager Tim Faulkner told the Australian Associated Press on Friday.

“To walk out of hospital a day later with no effects is a testament to the antivenom.”


The funnel-web spider's venom can be fatal if left untreated
Video:
Appeal for funnel-web spider venom

The funnel-web spider is native to Australia and can kill a human in less than 15 minutes.

“It would have been a fatal bite (without antivenom) there’s little to no doubt of that,” said Mr Faulkner.

“A small child is more vulnerable – but that bite would have killed an adult.”

The offending spider was captured and taken to the reptile park, located north of Sydney.

Last month the facility released a video showing people how to collect funnel-web spiders safely.

The park is the only supplier of venom to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, which provides medical professionals with the antivenom to cure snake and funnel-web spider bites.

To keep up the supply of venoms the staff regularly ‘milk’ more than 300 snakes and 500 spiders that are included in the programme.

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