Science saving man’s best friend from deadly snake bites

By Nikki Galovic

8 July 2016

2 minute read

The Eastern Brown Snake is the deadliest snake in Australia. Image: John Englart

The Eastern Brown Snake is the deadliest snake in Australia. Image: John Englart

‘Straya – we’re known for our beautiful beaches, barbeques and Kylie Minogue but we’re also pretty well known for our deadly animals including our long list of venomous snakes. In fact, Australia is home to ten of the most venomous snakes in the world. The most deadly of which is the Eastern Brown Snake.

Thankfully the number of people who die from snake bites has significantly reduced over the past few decades as medical expertise has advanced and anti-venoms are more readily available.

three working dogs in the back of a ute watching sheep out of shot

Snake in the grass: snakes are especially prevalent in rural areas
Credit: Carl Davies

But snakes aren’t just a concern for humans. Our pets are also at risk of snake bites.

Thousands of dogs are bitten by snakes each year but the number that die is set to reduce significantly thanks to a new anti-venom developed by our scientists and a local Australian company.

Our favourite four-legged friends are naturally curious and are more susceptible to snake bites than other pets.

Andrew Padula, a vet from regional Victoria, sees a lot of dogs affected by snake bites and sadly they don’t all survive.

Andrew came to us with the idea for producing an anti-venom for dogs that would be more effective at treating our canine friends.

Prof George Lovrecz from our manufacturing team explains that this new process is much more effective that those currently on the market because it is distilled and concentrated to create a pure, fully-tested anti-venom which is ready to be injected into snake-bitten dogs.

“We used the latest technologies to make sure that the anti-venom is not only safe and effective but it’s also a lot cheaper to produce compared to existing products,” Prof Lovrecz said.

With this more effective and lower cost product, more dogs will be able to be saved from deadly snake bites.

Once final testing has been completed and the anti-venom has been given approval for sale from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority it will be available on the market and stocked by vets around the country.

This approach could also have applications for treating humans for snake bites or against the toxins of paralysing ticks and our scientists are also researching the possibility to use a similar approach to treat other virus like Ebola.

For more information about our biomedical manufacturing work, check out our website.