What is envenomation?

Envenomation is the name given to the injection of venom (the poisonous secretion of an animal) into a person’s body, usually by a bite or sting.

There are many venomous creatures in Australia, both on land and in the sea, including certain types of snakes, spiders, and jellyfish.

Envenomation can cause two types of poisoning:

  • localised poisoning – affecting only the area where the bite or sting was received
  • systemic poisoning – affecting the whole body.

Envenomation does not cause many deaths in Australia – usually only two or three each year – but can cause serious illness requiring admission to the intensive care unit (ICU).

What is antivenom?

Antivenom (also called antivenin or antivenene) is a medication used to treat poisonous bites and stings, which works by neutralising the venom. It is injected into either a muscle or vein of the person who has been bitten or stung.

What happens in intensive care?

When someone who has been envenomed is admitted to the ICU, they will be closely monitored and treated by the medical team.

If you have any questions about the care of someone in the ICU, please speak to the nurses and doctors.

Useful links

Publication details

Version 1.1. First published 2015. Next review 2023.


The information on this page is general in nature and cannot reflect individual patient variation. It reflects Australian intensive care practice, which may differ from that in other countries. It is intended as a supplement to the more specific information provided by the doctors and nurses caring for your loved one. ICNSW attests to the accuracy of the information contained here but takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.