Title

'Watch out for these killers!': newspaper coverage of the Sydney funnel web spider and its impact on antivenom research

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Cushing, N & Markwell, K 2010, ''Watch out for these killers!': newspaper coverage of the Sydney funnel web spider and its impact on antivenom research'', Health History, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 79-96.

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Based on a content analysis of treatments of the funnel web spider in the Sydney Morning Herald between 1955 and 1985, this paper argues that negative attitudes towards the funnel web were encouraged throughout this period in news stories, commentary, and advertisements and were demonstrated in the reported words and actions of members of the general public. Despite this opprobrium, research into a funnel web antivenom was able to proceed because of the willingness of individuals to collect the spiders and forward them to researchers. Negative attitudes towards the funnel web were able to be directed to a positive action which eventually helped to bring about the development of an antivenom, lessening the real threat posed by the spider.

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