School Nurse Emergency Highlight - Bite

Students in any degree of shock require immediate medical attention.

In some cases, anaphylactic reactions may occur after insect bites, which may be life threatening.


  1. Student who has been bitten by spider, snake or insect will feel pain and possibly nausea, dizziness or shock. Check bite mark for swelling and/or bleeding.
  2. For redback spider bite, wash wound with soap and water, apply antiseptic, cover with dressing, then apply cold pack. Call 000 if student seems to be having an allergic or anaphylactic reaction. Symptoms include rash, itchiness, swelling on hands, feet or face, or slowed breathing.
  3. Call 000 for snake or funnel-web spider bites. Place clean dressing over bite, then firmly (not tightly) wrap bandage starting just below fingers or toes as far up limb as possible. Mark bite area on bandage. Splint limb and keep student completely immobilised below the heart. Provide constant reassurance while waiting for ambulance.


Frequently Asked Questions

Where do redback spiders and funnel-web spiders live? They prefer dark, out-of-the-way places, such as wood, rock and brush piles.

Are white tail spiders venomous? No, but they carry dangerous bacteria. A white tail bite must be cleaned and disinfected. If there are any signs of an infection, see a doctor.

Should I apply ice to the snake bite or use a tourniquet? No. Also do not cut the wound and do not apply suction. Call 000 immediately.

What about domestic animal bites? They can cause infection and soft tissue injury. Wash the wound with soap and water, and irrigate with clean tap water or saline before applying an antiseptic.

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