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By Donald F. Thomson, D.Sc, Dip. Anthrop,

Special to "The Mercury"

TT is well known that anti-venene, prepared from the

venom of the tiger snake, is now in general use for the treatment of snake bite in Australia. This venom is produced and distributed by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and is found today in every well-equipped dispensary.

rJ^HIS is not the first time that anti

venene against the venom of the tiger snake has been produced in Aus- tralia. In 1898 . Dr Frank Tidswell carried out extensive research on snake venom. He also experimented on the immunisation of horses with tiger snake venom by gradually increasing the quantity of venom injected into the animal until it was capable of with- standing what would at first have been

sufficient to kill it.

He then set out to determine the quantity of thc serum, which he had obtained from the immunised horse, that was required to "neutralise" this venom-that is, to destroy its effect upon thc'animal into which he had injected it.

Tidswell found that not-- only did his anti-venene give a high degree of protection against the venom of the tiger snake, but also that the protec- tive effect could be obtained even many hours after the venom had been at work. This is characteristic of the modern anti-venene-that it produces dramatic, almost miraculous, effect* upon patients who may have been bitten many hours before the anti venene administered, and who may already have collapsed and be beyond all hope of recovery by artv

other treatment.

* *. +? *

TIP to the present no" poli-valent ^ anti-venene-no anti-venene fully effective against the bites of all Aus- tralian snakes-has been produced. But it has been found that tiger snake anti venene affords what is known as "cross protection"- a relative' protection - against the venom of a number of other species of snake, so that it is now in general use for the treatment of the bite not only of the tiger snake, bul of all common species.

Anti-venene is 'administered intra- venously, that is, through a vein. In this way it is most rapidly absorbed into the circulation.

* * * *

l^ROM earliest times the belief has

existed that the poisons of certain animals-snakes, toads, bees, and hornets-have special thera.oeutic or magical properties.

Not least interesting of these beliefs are those concerned with the properties of bee stings. It ls recorded that the early Egyptians held beliefs about the value of bee stings in the treatment

of rheumatism.

Treatment for rheumatism by bee sting, known as "bee therapy." was seriously practised before the war.

An advance was made in this rather crude treatment for rheumatism with the stings of bees, when a European doctor made an extract prepared from the stings of bees and injected this into Iiis patients in gradually increasing


The sudden occurrence of black forms among animals, which differ apparently only in colour from the normal, is often a source of surprise and speculation.

This variation occurs commonly in the Australian native cat, where a black

or "melanistic" form often suddenly

appears among normal reddish or yel- 1

lowish brown animals.

Similar "sports" or mutations occur , in panthers-where a black or melanis- tic form is not uncommon. . The phenomenon occurs also in horses, dogs, cats, and other animals.

The black colour is due to a pigment known as "melanin" from the Greek melanos, black. It is the same pigment that is responsible for the dark coloura- tion in human hair and eyes, and for the black skin colour of negroes and other native peoples. . Tanning after -exposure to the sun is also due to the greater development of melanin in the deeper layers of the skin.

The melanins are believed to owe their origin to the oxidation of a col- ourless organic compound or "cliromo gen" which, is brought about by the agency of an enzyme-a compound of organic composition, that is, of plant or animal origin, which brings about chemical. changes such as the process of "oxidation" referred to. \