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25/06/2015 National Poisons Centre continues to deliver Poisonsline Staff at the National Poisons Centre based at the University of Otago are delighted to learn that the Ministry of Health has chosen Homecare Medical as the preferred provider for the National Telehealth Service.

The National Poisons Centre looks forward to working with Homecare Medical, as the lead provider, to continue to deliver the national Poisonsline based in Dunedin, says NPC Director Dr Wayne Temple.

Both organisations share the same values when it comes to health care delivery and believe that this partnership will be of greater benefit to the New Zealand public.

Homecare Medical will also be responsible for delivering Healthline, Immunisation Advice, Quitline, and the three helplines for Depression, Gambling, and Alcohol and Drugs. The National Poisons Centre will continue to deliver the Poisonsline service from Dunedin.

The NPC, based in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Otago, has been providing the New Zealand public and health-care professionals with poisons advice for more than 50 years.

Partnering with Homecare Medical will ensure that every door is the right door for the people in New Zealand seeking health advice.

This partnership will only serve to enhance the Poisonsline Service, as the NPC will be supported by Homecare Medical in its service delivery. Greater access for patients and seamless inter-service referrals are just a couple of the benefits that will arise from the partnership, adds Dr Temple.

Im very pleased that people involved in this project have recognised the merit in retaining the National Poisons Centre.

The NPC currently handles approximately 35,000 poisoning enquires every year. It also maintains a poisons information database called TOXINZ. The NPC will continue to operate 24/7 and can be contacted by calling 0800 POISON / 0800 764-766.
16/06/2015 New rules for antifouling paints The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is reminding boaties and anyone else who paints boats of new rules for using antifouling paints.

From 1 July 2015, anyone who uses antifouling paints has to make sure they work in a controlled work area.

This means they have to make sure none of the paint they spray can get out of the work area, and nobody else can get in while they are working.

They also have to put up signs to warn people about the work they are doing, and the measures they need to take to stay safe.

The new rules require anyone who removes antifouling paint from a boat to make sure that all the scrapings and other waste are collected and disposed of properly.

And a rule that came into force two years ago requires anyone who handles antifouling paint to use protective clothing or equipment to limit their exposure to the paint and its fumes.

For more information go to or downlaod a copy of the brochure from our resources page.
10/10/2012 Nitrogen cocktail drinker's stomach removed Authorities say a British teen has had her stomach removed after she ingested a cocktail prepared with liquid nitrogen, an exotic ingredient often used by bartenders to add a touch of drama to their drinks.

British media say 18-year-old Gaby Scanlon was out with her friends Thursday night in the northern England city of Lancaster when she was hospitalised after having a drink prepared with liquid nitrogen, a super-cooled version of the harmless gas.

Liquid nitrogen evaporates rapidly at room temperature, creating a cauldron effect as water condenses around the glass.

It's not clear how exactly Scanlon managed to ingest the liquid local police have said they're investigating but public health officials say it's time to take a second look at its use in bars.

The bar is not thought to have made an error in preparing the drink but The Telegraph newspaper quoted Professor Peter Barham, of the University of Bristol's School of Physics stressing the proper use of liquid nitrogen.

The temperature of the liquid is around -196C and if it is not used properly it can cause frostbite or cryogenic burns, he warned.

"As with any very hot or very cold liquid proper safety measures must be taken,'' he told The Telegraph. ''Just as no-one would drink boiling water or oil or pour it over themselves, so no-one should ingest liquid nitrogen.

"Liquid nitrogen can be used safely in the preparation of foods. However, since it is not safe to ingest liquid nitrogen due care must be taken to ensure that the liquid has all evaporated before serving any food or drink that was prepared with liquid nitrogen.''

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TOXINZ ( is the National Poisons Centre's Internet database containing information regarding toxic compounds and the management of poisoned patients.

For information on subscribing to TOXINZ, contact

Welcome to the New Zealand National Poisons Centre

Kids - Click here for games The National Poisons Centre is a 24/7 Poisons Information Service available to all New Zealanders.

Provided by the Ministry of Health and ACC, the NPC maintains an accurate and up-to-date database of almost all poisonous substances in NZ and Australia, and provides professional and timely advice during poisoning incidents.

Spiders in New Zealand

Spiders in New Zealand

New Zealand has numerous species of spiders, however only two species are known to be venomous.

These are the redback spider (Latrodectus hasseltii) and the katipo (Latrodectus katipo). Although other species of spider are known to bite, their venom is regarded as harmless to man. An example of this is the white tailed spider (Lampona cylindrata and L. murina), which has venom that is not known to cause harm in human exposures, however good wound care is still required. In some rare cases people may develop an allergic reaction following a bite.

It is always helpful to capture the spider so that it can be kept and identified later should a bitten person become unwell. But you must be very careful you are not also bitten if you do this. Following a bite advice should be sought from your Poisons Information Centre.

What Does It Look Like?

Redback Spider (Latrodectus hasseltii)

Dark brown to jet black in colour with a red stripe running down the length of its back. On the lower surface is a red mark shaped like an hourglass.

Katipo Spider (Latrodectus katipo)

Dark brown to jet black in colour with a red stripe running down the length of its back.

White Tailed Spider (Lampona cylindrata and L. murina)

The white tailed spider has a black to grey body, and can be readily identifiable by a distinctive small white patch at the end of its "tail". The young spider has several white spots down the abdomen, instead of a solid patch. Fully-grown spiders are about 15 mm in length with shiny black legs than can span approximately 28 mm in diameter.

Other Non-toxic Spiders

New Zealand has many species of spider of which only the redback and katipo are venomous to human. If you are unsure of the identity of a spider or concerned that it could be an exotic species, contact your Poisons Information Centre for further advice.

What Symptoms May Occur?

It is important to remember that most spiders are not harmful and following good wound care symptoms are unlikely to develop. If symptoms of infection or illness occur contact your Poisons Information Centre or medical professional.

If bitten there may be little or no local pain, a minor sting, or sharp "pin-prick"; people bitten during sleep may not be aware of the event.

Some people can develop an allergic reaction to the bite. If the person is having difficulty breathing call an ambulance. If they develop a rash, temperature or general swelling take them to a Doctor.

First Aid - What Should I Do?

If an envenomation has occurred and the person is experiencing ill effects, ring your Poison Centre or seek medical advice. If these effects are severe, call an ambulance.

If Bitten

Symptoms such as an upset stomach, abdominal pain, or localised sweating around the bite area, may indicate a serious bite. If any of these occur, contact the New Zealand National Poisons Centre.

If the person is awake:

  • Keep the person calm
  • Wash the bite area with a mild soap and water
  • Apply an ice pack over the area to help relieve pain and swelling
  • Do NOT use vinegar or methylated spirits on the wound
  • Do NOT apply ice to hands or feet as this may cut off circulation

Contact your local Poisons Centre or Doctor.

If the person is having difficulty breathing:

  • Keep the person calm
  • Help the person into a position so that breathing is as easy as possible
  • Call an ambulance


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University of Otago NZ National Poisons Centre

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