Snakes are not the only biting creatures of summer

The black widow's bite can cause a serious reaction.

June 24, 2013 16:21
1 minute read.
A black widow spider's bite can cause serious reactions.

black widow spider 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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A few days after a man died from the bite of a poisonous viper snake, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center issued an alert about dangerous bugs to watch out for this summer.

Dr. Yael Faran, an expert on infectious diseases and head of the hospital’s traveler’s clinic, said on Monday that bites from spiders, ants, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other creepycrawlies can be harmful as well.

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In general, only a minority of spider species are dangerous. In some cases, the toxin enters a person’s body when the spider is caught between the individual’s body and another object.

Most spider bites are not harmful to man, said Faran. The black widow spider (Latrodectus) and the Mediterranean recluse spider (Loxosceles rufescens) spider, however, do have a dangerous bite.

The Mediterranean recluse spider has a white pattern shaped like a violin on its back, lives mostly inside homes and is more common than the black widow. Its bite can cause deep sores that can cause sepsis and tissue damage. It is treated in hospitals either locally or systemically, depending on how much the toxin has spread.

The black widow is small and shiny black with red spots on its back. It is usually found outdoors, and its bite can cause a serious reaction that may include muscle pains that can turn into severe pain in the abdomen, back and chest. In such a case, it requires systemic treatment. In severe cases, it can lead to a serious rise in blood pressure and rapid pulse, sweating, nausea and vomiting.

In severe cases, antitoxin is needed for treatment. Treatment includes anti-tetanus vaccine if the victim has not been vaccinated in recent years.

Since the clinical picture presented by a spider bite is akin to serious skin infections or bites by other inspects, sometimes the attacker is actually not a spider at all.

Rinse the affected skin with water and soap, and cool the area with ice. If there is significant swelling or pus, fever, vomiting, muscle or abdominal pain, excessive sweating or black or blue areas around the bite – or if the local reaction gets worse over 24 hours – go for medical help.

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