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Bacterial Etiology of Necrotic Arachnidism in Black Widows

Study Results: Student Research Indicates that Current Spider-bite Treatment Is Inadequate

As human development expands further into wild habitats, the incidence of venomous spider bites has increased annually. Treating these bites has become a common challenge for veterinarians worldwide. Rabbits are especially prone to venomous bites and exhibit severe lesions. The student found the presence of four rare, highly pathogenic, antibiotic-resistant bacterial species taken from numerous samples of sterilely extracted black widow spider fangs. This finding indicates why cutaneous spider-bite lesions are unresponsive to steroid and first-line antibiotic treatment and contradicts the perception that the venom is the causative agent in infections. It also shows that bacterial strains have adapted to life on the fangs of certain spiders, providing them with an excellent mode of infection: the bacteria are not only passed to the victim via the fang but are also protected from host defenses by the immune-suppressing effects of the venom. The results of this study suggest that the current treatment standards for spider bites in human and animal medicine are inadequate and in need of reassessment.

Bradley J. Ahrens, Western University of Health Sciences

Posted by MAFon January 11, 2011.

Categories: Animal studies, Veterinary students, Wildlife health


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