Thursday, March 30, 2023

This spider injects something more dangerous than venom

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It seems that the false widow spider (Steatoda nobilis) can inject its victims with something worse than simple venom. Scientific alert, these spiders were found to have bacteria on their fangs which in some cases left victims with “swollen hands, rotten pus holes, amputation threats, or even death. “ The false widow spider has been mainly found in the UK since it was first spotted in the 1870s, possibly “after hitchhiking from Madeira and the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa”.It has expanded its reach as far as Ireland, and encounters with these spiders have increased as more people are forced to stay at home due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “About 10 species of spiders common in northwestern Europe have fangs strong enough to pierce human skin and deliver venom, but only one of them, the recent noble and invasive false widow spider, is considered as of medical importance. ” said John Dunbar, zoologist at the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway.

Some experts have argued that “even though he is guilty of leaving a few holes, it is the victim who supplies the necrotizing bacteria by scratching the site with dirty fingernails.” However, Dunbar’s team took false widows, lace webs (Amaurobius similis) and giant house spiders (Eratigena atrica) to their lab to clean them for bacteria in order to test this hypothesis.

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RNA analysis revealed a variety of microbes on spiders, and “of 22 bacterial species found on false widows, 12 were potentially pathogenic to humans.”

Most of these germs are found “just about anywhere” and do not indicate that we are dealing with “plague-spreading monsters”, but there are still reasons to be careful.

In addition, some of the microbes found on these spiders have shown “worrying grades or resistance to antibiotics”. The good news, however, is that all can be treated with a course of ciprofloxacin, a common antibiotic, but only time will tell if that changes.

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Adam Bankhurst is a news editor for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Tic.


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