Life-saving anti-venom is in short supply in Australia for the treatment of bites from the world's deadliest spider, the funnel-web spider.
Watch this short Sky News clip and learn all the details about this health problem. The activity is suitable for Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 students.
1 How many people die in Australia every year because of the venom of the funnel web spider?
2 Where was John Gambrill bitten?
3 Why are the Australian health authorities running low on the anti-venom?
4 What are the zoo staff asking the public to do?
5 How many milkings are necessary for one dose of anti-venom?
6 Why are the 1980's mentioned?
You can check the answers and read the full transcript below.
The funnel web is the world’s deadly spider. Dozens of Australians get bitten every year. Its lethal venom can kill in a matter of hours unless treatment is given, so it pays to know where they like to hide.
John Gambrill was bitten on the wrist while gardening. Within seconds, the venom was making him ill.
Everything sort of happened all at once and I thought this is not good. I just didn't know how bad it was going to get. My perspiration was just coming out of me everywhere, I had the shakes, I felt a bit faint and that’s it, so I decided in the end, it caught me for about 5 or 10 minutes.
So we’ve got a whole bunch of females on this side and then over here we’ve got our male funnel web which is… they are in decline at the moment.
This zoo north of Sydney is the only Australian center where venom is extracted to make the anti-venom. The weather hasn’t been great for the funnel web population and stocks are worryingly low, so staff are asking the public to catch funnel webs and bring them in, so they can be milked for their poison.
Usually we are the ones saying to people if you see a dangerous animal leave it alone and it will leave you alone, you won’t have any run-ins. But it is really important that we turn to the community to actually obtain our funnel-webs. It's the most productive way for us to get these animals.
The dangerous extraction process involves stroking the spider’s sharp fangs and sucking the venom through a pipette. It takes seventy milkings to make just one dose of the life-saving drug. And it’s not just spiders. These zoo residents also donate their venom, although unlike the funnel webs the zoo isn’t running low on dangerous snakes. The anti-venom only came into use in the early 1980’s, and it’s saved many lives. Now Australians are being asked to face their fear and catch rather than kill these harmful creatures. Jonathan Samuels, Sky News.
1 we don't know, it doesn't say. 2 on the wrist 3 because the weather has been bad for the spider 4 to catch funnel webs and take them to the zoo 5 seventy 6 because anti-venom started being used in those years