Redback spider bites in children in South Australia: A 10-year review of antivenom effectiveness

Emerg Med Australas. 2022 Apr;34(2):230-236. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.13869. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Objective: To describe the South Australian paediatric redback spider bite experience and to examine the hypothesis that redback antivenom (RBAV) treatment in children is clinically effective.

Methods: Retrospective chart review of all children under 18 years of age presenting to the EDs of the three major paediatric or mixed hospitals in Adelaide, South Australia, with a discharge diagnosis of redback spider envenomation between 1 January 2010 and 31 March 2020. The main outcome measures include: patient and bite demographics; presenting symptoms and signs; treatment provided; clinical effects at 2 h post RBAV administration on pain, diaphoresis, blood pressure, heart rate and systemic features; overall clinical impression of RBAV effectiveness and resolution of symptoms prior to discharge.

Results: There were 256 patient encounters involving 235 patients. Latrodectism was described in one-third (34%) of the cases. Sixty-one patients received RBAV and in 57 (93%) patients the RBAV had good clinical effect. Two hours post RBAV administration, pain resolved in 71%, hypertension resolved in 62%, diaphoresis resolved in 43% and tachycardia resolved in 82%. There were no cases of urticaria or anaphylaxis and one case of serum sickness.

Conclusions: This retrospective review of redback spider envenomation in South Australian children over a 10-year period has demonstrated clinical effectiveness of RBAV in paediatric patients across all age groups, observed in both clinician perceived results and measurable outcomes. RBAV remains an effective treatment for redback envenomation in children.

Keywords: antivenom; children; redback; spider bite.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antivenins* / therapeutic use
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • South Australia / epidemiology
  • Spider Bites* / diagnosis
  • Spider Bites* / drug therapy
  • Spider Bites* / epidemiology


  • Antivenins