Tragedy highlights ant venom research

Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research studies into anaphylaxis have been brought to prominence following the death of a Bunbury man after an ant reportedly stung him.

Professor Simon Brown, from Perkins Centre for Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine (CCREM) at Royal Perth Hospital, told ABC radio that if the man's death was found to have been caused by an allergic reaction to the ant's venom, it would have been the first confirmed ant sting death in Western Australia.

Professor Brown explained that there are 90 different species of Myrmecia (bull ants and jumper ants) in Australia.

He said that although the Bunbury man had used an EpiPen, one dose of adrenaline may not be enough to save a life during a very severe anaphylactic reaction, providing only temporary relief or "buying time" until more treatment can be given.

Professor Brown advised that anybody experiencing a severe allergic reaction after being bitten by an insect should give themselves their EpiPen if they have one, keep calm and lay down flat until help arrived.

Research at the Centre for Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine (CCREM) involves collaboration between clinical academics working in the Emergency Department, research nurses collecting samples from patients presenting to the ED with acute illnesses and scientists analysing samples in the laboratory using immunological and molecular biological techniques. Professor's Brown's venom allergy studies are among a number of current projects being undertaken by CCREM.

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