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Spider Bites

Find, identify & discuss the insects of SANParks
Jon Richfield
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 11:32 am

Re: Bitten by rain spider

Unread post by Jon Richfield » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:54 pm

About the arachnophobia folks, I really understand the problem and I understand that some people have it a LOT worse than anyone in my family and that in at least some people it is innate.
Still, genuine phobias generally are treatable, and most of them even are self-treatable. Even if you can only make yourself a little less panicky, comfortable about looking at them, just think of the advantages! It is worth a bit of work surely?
There are a lot of sites online that deal with self help with such problems, possibly because everyone who is successful wants to pass on the knowledge by way of celebration. Here are a few sites:""" ... ct-Phobias" onclick=";return false;"
There are plenty more of course, including no end of garbage, as always! All the same, if you ignore all the really useful material on the Internet just because it is buried in far larger volumes of rubbish, then you will be rejecting the most powerful and generally useful tool that modern information technology has yet yielded for humanity.
Not a good idea!!!
By way of example consider me (ahem!) On a couple of occasions so far, I have woken up from dead-deep sleep to feel something fiddling with my hair. Real baboon spider stuff! So far I have managed to maintain self-control long enough not to swat the budgie or mouse or what ever else had escaped in my room, but instead to lie still until I had guessed what was going on. In phobia mode I probably would have woken the house, dented the ceiling, and killed either a pet or a valued specimen. This does not mean that I am phobia free, not by any means, but it does mean that I have a great deal of freedom to enjoy creatures that otherwise would have ruined my life indefinitely.
You know exactly what I mean, don't you?
When we recently visited the Sterkfontein caves I found some large Opiliones (harvestmen and other popular names) and grabbed a few pictures. They are entirely harmless and very cute, but won't figure highly in most beauty contests. Also, they look a little bit like spiders, so until you are used to them, they are a bit scary. The one on the wall is the female and the one on my hand is a male. You have to be cautious in handling them or their legs break off, which is sad.
Anyway, the point is that they are good for practising getting used to handling harmless spidery things.

Even if you don't know where to find Opiliones, try some form of desensitisation. Give it a go!
And WHATEVER you do, DON"T pass on the fear to your children!!!

User avatar
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 7:33 pm
Location: Scratching around West Africa

Re: Spider Bites

Unread post by ScorpionKing » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:33 am

I see you guys need pointing in the right direction...

There are very few deaths from spider bites worldwide. Most fatalities and symptoms are due to secondary infection or complications with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes. In the past 50 years no one has died as a direct result of a spider bite. However, as people can be allergic to bee venom, the same can be true of spider venom (and scorpion venom). In some cases patients display heightened reactions to the venom, not normally experienced.

Badly researched and written newspaper (Beeld: Woman dies from Violin Spider bite) and magazine articles (SA 4x4 Magazine article) perpetuate misinformation and fear. All the emails you get about spiders are hoaxes, please just delete them.

One of the problems experienced with spider bites is that they spider is rarely seen to bite the victim. This results in the majority of patients seeking medical help once the bite sight develops into a lesion. By that time, septicemia has often set in. This is where the complications start. Septicemia coupled with pre-exiting medical conditions are often difficult to control

Violin Spiders - Very few bites in southern Africa annually. Blamed for many bites that are nothing to do with spiders. Public hysteria is rife regarding this spider. Most people have never even seen a Violin Spider.

Sac Spider - Responsible for the majority of spider bites that require medical attention. Bites and symptoms are different from the Violin spider. Once again, septicemia is the problem.

Button Spider - Neurotoxic venom. In order for them to bite, patients have to put their hands in their webs or rub against them. We do not have Black Widows in Southern Africa. We have the Black button spider (4 species) and the Brown Button Spider (2 species). Black button spiders are rare in the urban environment, Brown button spiders are very common.

Treatment - Violin and Sac spider bite treatment should be centered around control of septicemia. Most bites heal by themselves without intervention. If you are diabetic get professional medical help. Keep the bite site sterile. Low doses of Dapsone should be administered as a preventative measure against tissue damage. Antibiotics if septicemia has developed.

Button Spider bites are usually noticed and the spider collected because of the immediate pain at the time of the bite. In extreme cases, patients should be hospitalized and observed for 24 hours. Antivenom (which is cheap in South Africa) is administered in extreme cases. Antivenom should only be administered at a medical facility since most patients experience a allergic reaction ranging from hives, dangerously low blood pressure to shock.

There is a lot more to spider bites, symptoms and treatment. If you rub antibacterial cream on any cytotoxic spider bite you'll be fine. Get professional help if you feel you cannot manage the symptoms. Vacuum pumps, electric shock treatment, milk, petrol, bleeding the bite site and other gadgets do not have any effect whatsoever. Electronic devices sold by some stores do not ward off spiders or scorpions. Education is the key to managing spider bites and scorpion stings. Never use antivenom outside a medical facility.

Hope this helps you guys.

Kind regards

User avatar
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 7:33 pm
Location: Scratching around West Africa

Facts about Spider Bites

Unread post by ScorpionKing » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:12 am

Hi All
I read all sorts of advice from people regarding spider bites. Below are some facts that we should all keep in mind with talking about spider bites.

General: Many medical professionals diagnose just about any lesion as a spider bite. Do a Google search for MRSA. All the emails we get about spiders are hoaxes. The photo of the guys hand which features on so many websites is from a bacterial infection. Any lesion that takes more than 1 month to heal is not from a spider bite. Any "bite" that when treated with antibiotics does not heal for months and months (see most newspaper articles) is not due to a spider bite. Cytotoxic spider bites typically heal in under 1 month.

Violin Spider: Due to misguided media reports, hoax emails, ignorance and dodgy websites, there is mass and widespread hysteria about these spiders. They rarely bite, they do occur in houses but not in all parts of southern Africa. Bites are not as common as we have been led to believe. A spider bite like symptom does NOT mean it was a Violin Spider. Just because a spider is in your house does NOT mean it is a Violin Spider.

Sac Spider: Common in everyone's house. Two periods of of increased instances of bites throughout the year due to their lifestyles. The spider is rarely seen to bite the patient. Bite symptoms are different from the Violin Spider. Responsible for the majority of necrotic bites that require medical attention.

Button Spiders: Black button spiders do NOT have a red hourglass under the abdomen. Black button spiders are rare around houses. Brown buttons spiders are very common. Check under your garden furniture :-) but no need to get uptight. Neurotoxic venom with characteristic symptoms.

Six Eyed Sand Spider: No properly documented bites in southern Africa however research on rabbits indicates that they are highly venomous. Rare leave them alone. Please take photos every 15 minutes if you do get bitten.

Bite like symptoms: A lesion does not mean it's from a spider! There are many things that can cause lesions. Most diagnosed "Spider bites" are not spider bites. Bite symptoms are characteristic of the spider up to a certain time frame. Septicemia is often responsible for what people consider a spider bite. Most websites containing information consider bites contain nothing more than hearsay and old wives tales. Magazine articles are often written by people scratching information from these dodgy websites. A good example can be found in August edition of SA 4x4 (see I've yet to be involved with any spider bite newspaper article where they have not stretched the facts or even made up facts to substantiate their story.
Jonathan Leeming

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