White Tailed Spider
This little critter is one of Australia's best kept secrets. Because formally there are no recorded deaths directly attributed to its bite, it has not been considered to be deadly. Therefore it hasn't had the high profile that it should when it comes to funding for research.
However, not all the medical profession agrees with the above statement as other sources indicate there have been five known deaths and three suicides attributed to it's bite. Victims do not die as a direct result, but the bite affects other bodily organs. Word is now spreading about the effects that a bite from the white-tailed spider can produce, and as you can see it is not good.
The white-tailed Spider (Lampona cylindrata) has a reputation for causing necrotising arachnidism. In 1987, a case of extensive tissue damage following a suspected white-tailed Spider bite was reported in an Australian medical journal. Since that time the white-tailed spider has been implicated in the print and electronic media, and in medical journals as the most likely cause of necrotising arachnidism.
The normal process of tissue death starts because of a loss of an oxygen rich blood supply. Often the body can replace the damage; wheals from jellyfish stings may be replaced by scar tissue - but in severe cases of necrosis from spider bites, the loss is extensive and irreversible, reaching through all layers of skin.
Skin death may start with surface blistering, or with darkening below, and can be rapid and agonizing. It can be accompanied by drastic attacks of vomiting and diarrhea. Or, it may be gradual with very little pain. One case in Melbourne had a fast onset and a slow, relentless continuation. The only way of repairing the damage involves skin grafts, and sometimes even amputations.
Often the affected area appears intially as a small blister and then satellite ulcers develop around the original lesion. It may be necessary to exceise the total area of ulceration rather than to concentrate on the small areas, because if left all layers of skin and underlying tissue subsequently break down. This has been seen on several occasions, though it may not occur in every case.
The importance of seeing your medical practitioner cannot be stressed enough. Samples of the secretion from blisters and ulcers need to be taken for analysis, in order for the correct treatment to be started as quickly as possible. Waiting for ulcers to go away without treatment is dangerous as infection and gangrene is a real threat to immediate and long-term health.
These are the progressive photos of Helen's bite from February 1998 up to and including a skin graft in June1998. Click on each picture for a detailed photo of the area.
Another example of a spider bite area after 8 weeks. Click on picture for a larger photo.
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