The first National ‘Venomous Bites and Stings’ Day is to be held on 19 November 2022 to celebrate Australia's unique and diverse wildlife and raise awareness of the importance of correct application of first aid to victims bitten or stung by
venomous creatures in Australia.
Australia is home to some of the world’s most venomous land and sea creatures, including certain types of snakes, spiders, and jellyfish.1 Despite relatively few fatalities,2 there were over 3,000 hospitalisations due to injuries caused by venomous creatures between 2017-2018.1 Rapid application of correct first aid is extremely important for maximising the chances of a positive outcome in victims of venomous bites or stings.
“Changing climate, sprawling suburbs and rewilding of gardens and nature strips could increase the chance of people coming into contact with venomous creatures in the lead up to summer,” says Dr Timothy Jackson, Toxinologist at the Australian Venom Research Unit, The University of Melbourne.
“In Australia, we have wonderful but potentially life-threatening venomous creatures living on our doorstep,” says Dr Julian White AM, Head of Toxinology at Women's and Children's Hospital.
“The Venomous Bites and Stings Day is a time for all Australians to learn and remember first aid for venomous creatures before adventuring outdoors. Treating bites and stings as a medical emergency can save lives.”
Did you know?
It’s NOT all about the size of the venomous creature: Even smaller creatures can be dangerous. For example, recent research found the venom of brown snakes changes as they get older, with small juvenile snake venom affecting the nervous system while big adult snake venom affects the blood system, disrupting the ability for blood to clot properly.3
Identifying the creature is NOT more important than treating the victim: Trying to identify or capture the creature may increase the risk of being bitten or stung again. The first actions after a bite or sting should always be calling 000 for emergency medical assistance and applying the correct first aid after a bite or sting.
It's NOT just an individual effort, everyone plays their part: The medical expertise from specialists, GPs and nurses across the country have helped us live alongside venomous creatures in Australia. Valuable data collected from hospital visits and treatment helps experts to continue to improve the national response to venomous bites and stings.
How to get involved
“Australians love the bush and the beach, but we need to be mindful of the venomous land and sea creatures that may live nearby. The aim of this awareness day is for as many Australians as possible to have ready access to the correct first aid information so that they can act fast in the case of a venomous bite or sting,” says Dr Jonathan Anderson, Executive Director, Medical Affairs, International Regions, CSL Seqirus.
- Learn it - Visit www.bitesandstings.com.au for up to date First Aid Guidance, and educational materials.
- Download it – FREE Australian Bites & Stings App: First Aid Guide to Australian Venomous Creatures4 for guidance on the correct application of first aid. Once downloaded, first aid instructions are available for use even in the most remote locations.
- Remember it having a first aid kit for venomous creatures nearby and enrolling in a first aid class will make sure you are prepared to respond to a venomous bite or sting.
- Practice applying the pressure immobilisation technique (PIT) which slows the movement of venom, a critical first aid response before receiving emergency care.4 The PIT is recommended after bites from Australian snakes and funnel-web spiders, or stings from a blue ringed octopus or cone snail.5
- Talk about it – Spread the word, get your family and friends on board! You can even test each other on your knowledge of first aid for venomous bites and stings.
The National day is part of a wider campaign sponsored by the Australian Government in partnership with CSL Seqirus to help inform Australians on what to do if they are bitten or stung by a venomous creature. Campaign partners supporting Australia's first ‘Venomous Bites and Stings’ Day include the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU) at The University of Melbourne, James Cook University, Women’s Children’s Hospital Adelaide, Australian Reptile Park, Venom Supplies, Australian Reptile Academy, Australian Herpetological Society, National Centre for Farmers Health, Hike Australia & New Zealand, Ottie Merino and Healthy Digital.
To download the awareness toolkit and educational posters visit the Australian Bites and Stings website.
Opportunity for interviews
Erchana Murray-Bartlett, Ambassador
Erchana Murray-Bartlett is running 6200km in five months from Cape York to Melbourne.
The 32-year-old is running the equivalent of a marathon every single-day with the hope of smashing a Guinness World Record, raising awareness of wildlife diversity loss and educating Aussies on how to safely enjoy the great outdoors along the way.
“This record-breaking run from the Tip to the Toe of Australia hopes to shine a light on our unique and beautiful outdoors, while serving a timely reminder for Aussies to stay prepared for encounters with the venomous creatures that we share it with,” says Murray-Bartlett.
Visit Erchana’s tiptotoe2022 website for more information or follow via Instagram and TikTok.
About CSL Seqirus
CSL 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. CSL Seqirus in-licenses a broad range of paediatric and adult vaccines and specialty pharmaceutical products.
CSL 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, CSL Seqirus is committed to reducing the burden of venomous bites and stings through awareness, education and community programs.
The manufacture of CSL Seqirus’ range of antivenoms is supported through funding by the Australian Government Department of Health. For further information, please visit: https://www.seqirus.com.au
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: www.seqirus.com.au/bites-app. 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.
The School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Melbourne
The School of Biomedical Sciences is one of the University of Melbourne's largest and fastest growing Schools. Located in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, the School has 85 research groups across three departments, awarding-winning teachers and more than 2500 equivalent full-time student enrolments each year. It's mission – to advance human health in Australia, and beyond.
Australian Venom Research Unit
The Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU) is a leading source in venomous research and knowledge in the Asia-Pacific region and is located in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Melbourne. The AVRU investigates medically significant venoms and antivenoms, surveils venomous injuries across Australia and leads the supply of antivenoms to Papua New Guinea (PNG) through the PNG Snakebite Partnership.
For more information: https://biomedicalsciences.unimelb.edu.au
ANZ-AVAT-22-0048, November 2022
Melissa Quinon, WE Communications
+61 (0) 410 500 014
Hamish Walsh, Communications Business Partner at CSL Seqirus
+61 (0) 422 424 338
1 Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2021 Mar 03. [Accessed/cited 29 Sept 2022]. https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/78b416bf-0250-4368-89d6-81e2d9f32528/aihw-injcat-215.pdf.aspx
2 Welton RE et al. Internal Medicine Journal. 2017 Feb [Accessed/cited 29 Sept 2022];2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/imj.13297/full
3 Cipriani V et al. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology. 2017 July. Feb [Accessed/cited 29 Sept 2022]. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1532045617300923?via%3Dihub
4 Bush SP et al. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2004 Dec [Accessed/cited 29 Sept 2022];6. https://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(04)00637-7/fulltext
5 White J. Clinician’s Guide to Australian Venomous Bites and Stings. 2013 February.