Spider bite

Geoffrey K. Isbister, Hui Wen Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

143 Citations (Scopus)


Spiders are a source of intrigue and fear, and several myths exist about their medical effects. Many people believe that bites from various spider species cause necrotic ulceration, despite evidence that most suspected cases of necrotic arachnidism are caused by something other than a spider bite. Latrodectism and loxoscelism are the most important clinical syndromes resulting from spider bite. Latrodectism results from bites by widow spiders (Latrodectus spp) and causes local, regional, or generalised pain associated with non-specific symptoms and autonomic effects. Loxoscelism is caused by Loxosceles spp, and the cutaneous form manifests as pain and erythema that can develop into a necrotic ulcer. Systemic loxoscelism is characterised by intravascular haemolysis and renal failure on occasion. Other important spiders include the Australian funnel-web spider (Atrax spp and Hadronyche spp) and the armed spider (Phoneutria spp) from Brazil. Antivenoms are an important treatment for spider envenomation but have been less successful than have those for snake envenomation, with concerns about their effectiveness for both latrodectism and loxoscelism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2039-2047
Number of pages9
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number9808
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

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