Danger Level: High
May be life-threatening to a child, but is rarely serious for an adult. There are approximately 2000 recorded redback spider bites each year, and about 250 receive anti-venom. No deaths have been recorded since anti-venom was introduced in the 1950s. The main symptom of a redback spider bite is severe and persistent pain.
Distribution: Many habitats throughout Australia, including urban areas. They often try to hide in dry, sheltered places such as garden sheds, mailboxes and under toilet seats.
Female approximately 1 cm (more dangerous than a male) with a distinct red stripe on its abdomen.
Male red back approximately 3–4 mm and light brown in colour. The males have white markings on the upper side of the abdomen and a pale hourglass marking underneath.
Redback spiders are nocturnal and only the female bite is dangerous.
Redback spiders can cause a painful bite, however only about one in five patients will go on to develop whole body symptoms.
All other patients should follow general first aid for bites and stings.
If the patient shows whole body symptoms eg. sweating, muscle aches and pains, nausea or headache, is suffering severe pain (despite first aid measures),the patient should be taken immediately to the emergency department of the nearest hospital. Antivenom is available.
If the area looks infected or inflamed, the patient should see their local doctor