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SA hot spot for venomous attacks - but not from the usual suspect

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Bees and other insects pose a larger public health threat in Australia than snakes, spiders or jellyfish, with South Australia a national hot spot for stings, experts warn.

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New research shows an allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, to insect bites and stings accounted for more than half of all deaths from a venomous creature between 2000-2013.

Western Australia and South Australia were hot spots for stings and bites.

This has led to calls for Australians not to become complacent about the humble bee.

“Perhaps it’s because bees are so innocuous that most people don’t really fear them in the same way they fear snakes,” said Dr Ronelle Welton from the Australian Venom Unit at the University of Melbourne.

Analysis of 13 years of data conducted at the Australian Venom Unit, published in the Internal Medicine Journal, shows venomous stings and bites resulted in almost 42,000 hospital admissions over the study period.

Bees and wasps were responsible for just over 33 per cent of total admissions, compared to 30 per cent for spider bites, and 15 per cent for snake bites.

Overall, 64 people were killed by a venomous sting or bite, with more than half of these deaths (34) due to an allergic reaction to an insect bite that caused anaphylactic shock.

There were 27 deaths from snake bite, but the statistics showed snake bite poisoning caused nearly twice as many deaths per hospital admission than any single other venomous creature.

This makes the snake bite one of the most important venomous injuries to address, the study authors said.

Bees and wasps killed 27 people, ticks caused three deaths, ant bites another two and the box jellyfish killed three people.

There were no deaths from spider bites recorded.

There were no deaths recorded in Tasmania and bites and stings were also much more likely to occur between April to October.

– AAP

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