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article imageBoy 10, requires 12 vials of anti-venom but survives spider bite

By Karen Graham     Feb 26, 2017 in Health
A 10-year-old New South Wales boy miraculously survived a bite on the finger by a funnel back spider this week after receiving 12 vials of anti-venom, the most ever given for a spider bite.
On Monday, last week, Matthew Mitchell was helping his dad clean out a shed in the backyard of their Berkeley Vale property in New South Wales, north of Sydney. Matthew reached into his sand shoe and let out a yelp after something that had been hiding in there bit him on the tip of his finger.
When he pulled his hand out of the shoe, there was a funnel web spider attached to his finger. "It sort of clawed onto me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn't get it off,' Matthew said, according to the Guardian.
Matthew's father, David Mitchell recognized the spider as being a funnel web, one of Australia's most deadly spiders and rushed Matthew off for emergency help. It is said that the venom from a funnel web spider can kill someone within 15 minutes.
Male funnel-web spider. Photo taken at McMasters Beach  Australia.
Male funnel-web spider. Photo taken at McMasters Beach, Australia.
Doug Beckers
Finding their local clinic was closed, the Daily Mail reports the family had to reroute their trip and took Matthew to an after-hours chemist at Killarney Vale, where staff applied a compression bandage to slow the venom's spread. By then, Mrs. Mitchell said, "He was tingly in his finger then it went up his arm."
An emergency call was made and after an ambulance crew arrived, the young boy was taken to Gosford Hospital where his condition rapidly deteriorated. "'By the time we got to the hospital, the poison had definitely kicked in," Mrs. Mitchell said.
Matthew had started sweating and frothing at the mouth. Then, seizures set in. Doctors were forced to use 12 vials of anti-venom before Matthew was finally brought around. According to local media, reports Fox News, the 12 vials was the most anti-venom ever administered since it was created in 1981.
Current guidelines for antivenom recommend the administration of two vials, or four vials if symptoms of envenomation are severe. Patients are assessed every fifteen minutes, with further vials recommended if symptoms do not resolve. Matthew received 12 vials, quite an enormous amount.
Matthew's family expressed relief at his miraculous recovery on Friday, with Mrs. Matthews saying, "I still can't believe how lucky we are to have him survive this horrific episode."
A redback spider  Latrodectus hasseltii  of the family Theridiidae.
Photographer : David McClenaghan
A redback spider, Latrodectus hasseltii, of the family Theridiidae. Photographer : David McClenaghan
CSIRO
Thanks to the introduction of anti-venom in Australia, deaths from any of the country's fearsome and deadly spiders are very rare. In April 2016, a redback spider bite was believed to have caused the death of 22-year-old Jayden Burleigh from Sydney. However, while the funnel web is considered Australia's most deadly spider because its venom can kill within 15 minutes, the redback spider is believed to have a more powerful venom.
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