Be vigilant of creepy crawlies

Photo: File.
Photo: File.

While there has been a decrease in the number of spider and snake bites across the central west during the first six weeks of the year, when compared to the same period in 2017, NSW Ambulance paramedics are still urging people to be on the lookout for the creepy crawlies.

Figures from NSW Ambulance reports a total of 8 snake and spider incidents from January 1, to February 7 2018 –  a slight decrease when compared to the 11 incidents (7 spider, 4 snake) for the same period last year.

NSW Ambulance paramedics attended a total of 140 calls in January 2018 involving snakes and spiders (90 for spiders including 23 for funnel webs, and 50 snakes); an increase from 102 calls in December 2017 (55 spiders, 47 snakes) and 71 in November 2017 (45 spiders, 26 snakes).

The incidents across the Central West from January, 1 2018 include a 19-year-old male bitten by a spider in Bourke on January 7.

A 41-year-old woman was bitten on the elbow by a spider in Parkes on January 13. In Dunedoo a 36-year-old man was bitten on the foot by a snake on January 20.

A 29-year-old male was bitten on the hand by a snake in Millthorpe on January 24.

On January 20, a 14-year-old boy was bitten on the foot by a snake in Turondale. In Gunning Gap on February 3, a four-year-old boy was bitten by a snake on the ankle.

A two-year-old boy was bitten by a spider in Orange on February 4 and in west Bathurst on February 7, an 89-year-old woman was bitten by a spider.

NSW Ambulance Zone Manager Western Sector Stewart Clarke said paramedics are urging caution.

“Around the home, remove piled up debris from the yard and keep lawns mowed to reduce the potential for unexpected visitors. Check items of clothing that have been left outside before wearing them,” Mr Clarke said.

“Paramedics attend many cases where people have put on boots and gloves and been bitten by spiders and even snakes which were hidden inside. Also, if you lift something such as a rock or log, lift it with it facing away from you.”

He added parents should be particularly vigilant of children playing in the yard.

The first three months of the year is traditionally the peak period for snake and spider bites. Peak activity for the past three years was: 2017 - January with 136 incidents; 2016 – February with 117 incidents; and 2015 - January with 139 incidents.

Superintendent Clarke advised that in the event of a snake or spider bite, people should call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

He added first aid for snake and spider bites varied depending on the species and included:

Check items of clothing that have been left outside before wearing them.

Stewart Clarke, NSW Ambulance

For snakes and funnel web spiders:

· If the bite is on a limb, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage. For all other bites, apply direct, firm pressure to the bite site with your hands.

· Keep the patient still and discourage them from walking around.

· Never cut or excise the wound. Do not attempt to suck out venom and don’t apply a tourniquet.

For spiders (eg redbacks, white-tails, trapdoors):

· Apply an ice pack or cold compress to relieve the pain.

· If severe symptoms develop, seek medical aid.

· In the case of small children involved in a suspected red back spider bite, medical aid should be sought, irrespective of whether symptoms manifest.

To have a snake safely removed from a property call your local wildlife care organisation, a licensed pest control operator or your local NPWS Office.

Alternatively, if you need assistance or advice on snakes and other reptiles, contact WIRES on 1300 094 737.

WIRES advises snakes are generally placid creatures and if left alone will invariably disappear of their own accord. People are advised to never approach a snake as many people are bitten either trying to catch or get rid of a snake.

Superintendent Clarke said NSW Ambulance paramedics attend many cases where it did not always transpire that patients had been bitten by a poisonous snake or spider, however it is better to call Triple Zero (000) for assistance to be on the safe side.