Police and the NHS are investigating the theft of anti-venom from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
During a routine stock check it was discovered that all stocked anti-venom had been taken from storage. They are unsure of exactly when this occurred due to its low use.
They ERI has now replenished its stores and has implemented tighter controls over access.
Antivenoms bind to and neutralize the venom, halting further damage, but do not reverse damage already done. Thus, they should be administered as soon as possible after the venom has been injected, but are of some benefit as long as venom is present in the body. Since the advent of antivenoms, some bites which were previously invariably fatal have become only rarely fatal provided that the antivenom is administered soon enough.
The ERI rarely gets called upon to administer the anti-venoms it stocks but it is a vital resource in case of emergency.