Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

That Stuff That Helps You Not Die

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.

snake

And then before you can react,

bam

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?

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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.

cartoon

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.

YOU-AND-WHAT

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!

Happy-Gilmore-Thumbs-Down
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.

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I don’t know about you, but if Chuck Norris gives something a thumbs up, thats good enough for me!

 

References

http://www.anaesthesia.med.usyd.edu.au/resources/venom/snakebite.html

http://www.zmescience.com/other/feature-post/antivenom-made-precious/

http://www.umich.edu/~elements/5e/web_mod/cobra/avenom.htm

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2 comments on “That Stuff That Helps You Not Die

  1. nobodyknowzyet
    May 8, 2016

    Dear writer,
    I would like to thank you for the time and effort you have put into writing this post. It was very well written and structured. However,the use of references (in-text citation) is greatly lacking for most of the claims you made.

    perhaps you could have spoken about how the human body’s immune system respond to poison without the use of venine.

    The use of scientific research/ resources related to this topic may have been very helpful.

    Please consider using the APA (American Psychological Association) referencing style for you references, before submitting your post.

    Like

  2. Myths and Reality by Andrea
    May 8, 2016

    Great Post! Your title caught my eye and I immediately clicked on to see what you had to say. The title is vague so I didn’t know what to expect. As I read on I was excited to read about antivenom. This topic is actually well known to me as the company my father works for make antivenom and supply it all over the world. I believe you explained the topic well. The pictures are great and go well with the content. You did mention one statistic in there which is great, but I would of liked to have known where that statistic has come from. If there is a source I think people would like to know, as I personally would like to read more on the death rates in the 1900’s. Nonetheless, a great post.

    Like

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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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