Have you ever been walking in the bush and seen a stick on the ground and thought “hmm, sticks don’t normally move on their own…”. Then comes that dreadful realisation that it is in fact not a stick. It is a snake. A big, scary, slithering snake.
And then before you can react,
You’ve been bitten.
Luckily for you, there is antivenom.
Antivenom, also known as antivenin, is what will likely save your life. It is administered to patients who have been envenomated by poisonous snakes, spidrs, lizards, octopi, fish and even jellyfish, and thanks to antivenin
you will probably see another day!
So what exactly is antivenom?
In simple terms, antivenom is a very large compound that defends against the attack the actual venom is having on your body. It contains neutralising antibodies that break down the toxins that are in the animals venom.
Our bodies alone do produce these specific antibodies, but in the instance of a snake or spider bite, it simply cannot produce the required amount to fight the venom in enough time to defeat it.
A good way to understand this is to imagine it like a vaccine. An instant vaccine.
When you are vaccinated against the flu for example, you are given an extremely weakened dose of the flu which triggers your body to produce antibodies which fight the specific strain of flu. The only reason we don’t get sick when we are injected with this mini flu is because it is so nulled it takes minimal effort for our bodies to beat it.
Now imagine getting injected with a full strength flu before your body has ever come across it. You are going to end up being one very sick puppy. Your body will try and fight the virus but without being preprepared it has no chance of winning.
Antivenoms are so effective because as soon it is injected, your body has all the resources it needs to beat the venom.
Before antivenoms, in the early 1900’s, the death rate of bites from tiger snakes, death adder and king brown snakes were as high as 40%-50% in Australia!
These days thanks to antivenom, of the roughly 500 snakebites in Australia that are treated using antivenin each year, only one or two are fatal.
I don’t know about you, but if Chuck Norris gives something a thumbs up, thats good enough for me!