Jack Jumper Trials Boosted

The Mercury



HUNDREDS of Tasmanians allergic to jack jumper ants are expected to volunteer for treatment after a long-awaited extension of trials.

The Royal Hobart Hospital project would be funded to treat about 100 Tasmanians a year for five years, Health Minister David Llewellyn said yesterday.

Participants are desensitised with a series of injections using ant venom, with treatment described as 100 per cent effective in an article published by prestigious medical journal The Lancet.

Maria Fletcher, of Colebrook, near Richmond, said she lived with constant fear of a fatal bite, moving into town for the peak summer season.

Ms Fletcher, research officer for the antallergy.org support group, said the need for treatment would prompt many people to join the trial.

“Living with a life-threatening allergy is indescribably difficult,’’ said Ms Fletcher, who has given up a range of outdoor activities and been bitten several times, each time with worse effect.

“`You no longer have the life you took for granted and you live in fear the next sting will kill you,’’ she said.

Mr Llewellyn said he had not succeeded so far in getting funding from other states, although people there could benefit.