Sydney man dies after redback spider bite, although not yet clear bite to blame | Environment

A 22-year-old Australian has died after being bitten by a redback spider in what may turn out to be the first such death since the antivenom was introduced 60 years ago.

Jayden Burleigh, from Sydney’s northern beaches, was reportedly bitten while walking on the north coast of New South Wales last week.

According to the Daily Telegraph, an abscess formed under his left arm, affecting his glands, and he was treated in hospital for four days. He was released on Thursday and given a course of antibiotics but died on Saturday.

Just eight months ago Burleigh’s younger brother, Lachlan, was killed in a car crash.

Burleigh’s mother, Deborah Burleigh, told the Sydney Morning Herald the exact cause of Jayden’s death would not be known for several weeks. “What we do know is that only a week ago he was in hospital, recovering from an infection due to a redback spider bite,”she said.

“He had a general anaesthetic to drain a severe abscess at Nambour hospital and was there for four days. He had also just recovered from injuries sustained in a car accident a few weeks prior.”

Nambour hospital, in south-east Queensland, has been contacted for comment.

Redback spiders are found across Australia, including in urban areas, and bites occur frequently – particularly during the summer months. But the last recorded death from a redback spider bite was in 1955, a year before the antivenom was developed.

According to the Australian Museum, more than 250 people are given antivenom each year, with several milder instances probably going unreported. Bites cause pain, sweating, muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting, but serious illness does not develop for at least three hours, allowing victims time to seek medical attention.

A spokesperson for Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service said that due to patient confidentiality legislation, they were unable to comment on the matter.