Skip to main content

Ahead of a summer at home, a knowledge gap could leave Aussies underprepared to deal with bites & stings from venomous creatures

• With holidays at home in Australia this year, a new consumer survey reveals an underpreparedness to deal with potentially deadly bites and stings from venomous creatures
• Despite some experts saying snake encounters are increasing1,2, less than half of respondents could identify the correct first aid procedures for a snake bite3
• Only 27% said that they would always pack a first aid kit when going to the bush or beach, despite half indicating they have been bitten or stung and/or witnessed venomous bites and stings firsthand
• 41% could not recall ever receiving training on first aid for venomous bites and stings


Australians preparing to spend their summer Down Under could be missing the correct first aid knowledge to protect themselves from the bites and stings of venomous creatures.

The “Take the Sting Out of Summer” consumer survey released today by Seqirus reveals that while Australians might assume they know what to do in the case of a bite or sting, they might be putting themselves at risk. Despite the majority (79%) of respondents under the impression that they know or have some idea of what to do if bitten or stung by a venomous creature, less than half (42%) could identify the correct first aid procedures following a snake bite.3 Only one-third of respondents (33%) correctly identified what to do if bitten by a funnel-web spider.3

With changes to the way Australians spend their time at home and outdoors this year as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, experts are sharing their warning to brush up our national knowledge to address bites or stings, given the venomous creatures which call Australia home.

“Anecdotally, we have already seen an increase in snake encounters compared to previous years. This could be in response to environmental changes or increased exposure as Australians work from home or explore the local beach and bush. Regardless of the reason, it is evident we need to be more prepared to deal with encounters with venomous creatures,” said Dr. Julian White AM, Clinical Toxinologist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia.

“Knowing how to respond immediately to a bite or sting can be the difference between survival and death. We encourage every Australian to take the time to get up to date on first aid knowledge.”

The survey reveals concerning misconceptions and outdated knowledge around addressing bites and stings from some of our country’s venomous and potentially deadliest creatures: snakes, spiders and jellyfish. A quarter (25%) of respondents said they would incorrectly treat a box jellyfish sting with urine, while some (9%) would incorrectly ask someone bitten by a funnel-web spider to get up and walk to the nearest medical assistance.3 Of note, a small group (8%) of respondents believe that sucking snake venom out with their mouth is the best option to treat a bite.3

Although the latest guidance on snake and funnel-web spider bites recommends applying a firm bandage and immobilising the victim using the pressure immobilisation technique to the bite or sting, nearly half (up to 47%) of respondents would incorrectly use a tourniquet.3

Despite nearly half (44%) of responses from survey participants indicating that they have either been bitten or stung, or have witnessed someone else being bitten or stung by a venomous creature, only a quarter (27%) said that they will always pack a first aid kit when going to the bush or beach.3

“A lot of people think they know how to handle venomous bites and stings, but if faced with the reality, they wouldn’t get it right,” said A/Prof. Bill Nimorakiotakis, Emergency Physician at Epworth Richmond & Retrieval Services Queensland.

“The correct and rapid application of first aid is critical in the moments between getting bitten or stung and receiving professional care. And remember, prevention is always better than treatment - it is not necessary to put yourself at risk by catching the venomous creature to bring it to the hospital because it does not, in most cases, help the clinician manage the victim.”

To help Australians prepare for their outdoor adventures, Seqirus has developed a free smartphone app working with partners, Australian Bites & Stings: First Aid Guide to Australian Venomous Creatures. This year, the app which is available for download from Apple App Store, Google Play and Huawei AppGallery, has included extra guidance from leading Australian experts on the latest first aid information for this summer. There is also tailored First Aid guidance for infants and children, and easy-to-digest videos and photos.

– ends –

If you or someone you know has been bitten or stung by a venomous creature and needs urgent medical advice or assistance, call 000. For more information on the treatment of venomous bites and stings, please speak to your doctor.


Media Contact

Liz Hebditch
WE Communications
M. +61 452 508 821

Joanne Cleary
M. +61 428 816 751


About Seqirus

Seqirus has public health protection at its core, reflecting the promise of our parent company - CSL Limited - which was founded in 1916 to save lives and protect the health of people. Together with our partners on the front line, we have served Australia’s healthcare needs for over a century. Today we develop, manufacture and source medicines that support the health and well-being of many thousands of people around the world. Seqirus in-licenses a broad range of paediatric and adult vaccines and specialty pharmaceutical products.

Seqirus also operates Australia’s only local manufacturing facility for seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine, and produces a range of unique medicines in the national interest including Q fever vaccine and antivenoms. As the only manufacturer in the world to supply antivenoms specific to Australian fauna, Seqirus is committed to reducing the burden of venomous bites and stings through awareness, education and community programs.

The manufacture of Seqirus’ range of antivenoms is supported through funding by the Australian Government Department of Health. For further information, please visit:

About the Australian Bites and Stings App

The Australian Bites and Stings App is available to download for free from Apple, Android and Huawei app stores or from the webpage: The App is designed to provide information for the general public on Australian venomous creatures and what to do if someone is bitten or stung. The guidance is specific to Australian fauna and is based on local resuscitation and envenoming first aid management guidelines published by the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC).

The App content is accessible offline and includes First Aid instructions on what to do if someone is bitten or stung by a venomous creature, including a step-by-step guide to DRSABCD, the Pressure Immobilisation Technique and expert commentary on why it’s important. The public can learn more about Australia’s venomous snakes, spiders, aquatic creatures, jellyfish and creepy crawlies with maps showing how they are approximately distributed around the country. There is also ‘Be Prepared’, ‘Bush Safety’ and ‘Beach Safety’ information with a checklist of some of the essentials before venturing out.

The information provided is to be used as a reference only and is not intended as a substitute for professional first aid training and techniques. Call 000 to seek urgent medical advice or assistance.


About the Consumer Survey

The “Take the Sting Out of Summer” consumer survey was conducted by Pureprofile on behalf of Seqirus. The total sample size was 1006 adults in Australia. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16 October to 23 October 2020 via an online survey.



First aid guidance for bites and stings4

­Snake bites

The first aid procedure for all snake bites (whether land-based or sea snakes) is the same. Do not use a tourniquet or cut, suck or wash the bite site. First aid for snake bites:

  • Urgently call 000 for medical assistance.
  • Apply the Pressure Immobilisation Technique and maintain basic life support if required.
  • Reassure the person, keep them at rest and under constant observation while urgently seeking medical assistance.

Funnel-web and other big black spiders

A bite from a large (>2cm), dark-coloured spider, especially in NSW and south-eastern Queensland, should be considered a medical emergency. Do not allow the person to walk and bring medical assistance to the person.

First aid for funnel-web spiders:

  • Urgently call 000 for medical assistance.
  • Apply the Pressure Immobilisation Technique and maintain basic life support if required.
  • Reassure and keep the person at rest and under constant observation.


No nationwide recommendation for First Aid can be made because of differences between jellyfish species around Australia. The Australian Bites & Stings App provides specific First Aid information for jellyfish in Tropical Australia (except Bluebottle stings) and Non-tropical Australia (and Bluebottle stings).

First Aid for Non-tropical Australia (and Bluebottle stings):

  • Call an ambulance and seek assistance from a lifesaver/lifeguard if available if the victim feels or looks unwell, the sting area is large (half a limb or more), affects sensitive areas (e.g. the eye) or if pain persists or is generalised.
  • Do not rub the stung area, wash it (for at least 30 seconds) with copious amounts of seawater.
  • Gently pick off any remaining tentacles, reassure the person and keep them at rest.
  • Place the person’s stung area in hot water (no hotter than the rescuer can tolerate) for 20 minutes. If local pain is not relieved by heat, or if hot water is not available, apply a cold pack or ice in a dry plastic bag.
  • Watch for symptoms that may indicate a serious allergic or anaphylactic reaction which requires urgent medical attention - call 000 immediately.

First Aid for Tropical Australia (except Bluebottle stings):

  • Due to the risk that the person has been stung by a potentially lethal jellyfish (e.g. Box or Irukandji jellyfish) the priority must be to preserve life. Do maintain basic life support if required.
  • Do, if the person has more than a localised single sting or looks/feels unwell, call 000 to seek urgent medical care and seek assistance from a lifesaver/lifeguard if available.
  • Unless the jellyfish is clearly identified as a bluebottle and the person is stable, it is safer to treat the person with vinegar.
  • Do wash the stung area (at least 30 seconds) with copious amounts of vinegar. If vinegar is not available, use sea water to rinse the sting after picking off any tentacles. Do not wash the stung area with fresh water.
  • Do apply a cold pack for pain relief, reassure the person and keep them at rest.


For more information please visit the Australian Bites and Stings App or the local resuscitation and envenoming first aid management guidelines published by the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC).


SEQ/AVAT/0920/0173b. Date of preparation: December 2020

1. The Western Weekender. Snake sightings set to increase; [Updated Sept 1 2020; Accessed Dec 8 2020].
2. Newsweek. COVID-19 Lockdown Leading to Boom in Deadly Snake Encounters, Expert Warns; [Updated Aug 30 2020; Accessed Dec 7 2020].
3. Pureprofile & Seqirus. “Take the Sting Out of Summer” consumer survey. Data on file. 2020.
4. Australian Resuscitation Council. The ARC Guidelines: 9.4.1 Australian Snake Bite - Mar 2020; 9.4.2 Spider Bite - Jul 2014; 9.4.5 Jellyfish Stings July - 2010; [Accessed Sep 21 2020].